Businessman accepts $850,000 offer for courthouse site

Pensacola businessman Jerry Long didn’t waste time in accepting Santa Rosa’s $850,000 offer for his 19 acres on Avalon Boulevard as the prospective site of the new county courthouse.

Long accepted the offer within days after the commission voted to make it last week, according to County Administrator Tony Gomillion.

If the 75-day due diligence period planned by the county finds no stumbling blocks, Long will realize a 55 percent profit on his 2009 investment of $550,000 on the Avalon property, which is near Mulat Road.

The new courthouse location will change the footprint of Santa Rosa government and alter the face of commerce on the county’s north side.

“It will move the county’s anchor from Milton south to Avalon Road,” said Tamara Fountain, a volunteer member of the Local Option Sales Tax Committee that is studying priorities on which to spend the levy’s new revenue—estimated to be about $7 million a year.

“You have dozens of courthouse employees whose workplace will be moving and the potential for new attorney’s offices, restaurants and other businesses that will want to be near the courthouse,” she said.

In addition, Realtors say the new location will boost land values in the area, start a wave of property being put up for sale and probably generate some attempts to rezone residences in the area that are now valued at less than $100,000 but may be worth more as commercial property.

Moreover, the new courthouse location would be a step in the right direction for county legal services, according to State Rep. Jayer Williamson of Milton, a former county commissioner. He told the Navarre Press, “I hope they can finally get it right. We need a south end annex, like I’ve said for a long time – a smaller courthouse in Milton and south end annex with a couple of courtrooms somewhere in Midway.

Long couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The prospective new courthouse itself is still unfunded and will likely rely on an additional half-cent sales tax being approved by voters in a referendum next year. A measure to build the facility in downtown Milton failed in 2016.

Read the full article in the August 3 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.

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