The Boulevard, a 34-acre entertainment district planned for the heart of Navarre, has had its fair share of speed bumps.
Most recently, COVID-19 government closures put the brakes on the project for nearly three months. The owners of the property were seeking a conditional use approval to allow high end apartment buildings to be included, creating a live, work and play community.
The volunteer Zoning Board recommended them for approval. Then the virus shut down zoning meetings.
But May 28, county commissioners approved the plan without objection at the urging of Navarre-area commissioner Dave Piech. No one attended the meeting to speak in objection, and no emails of objection were discussed.
There was no lack of objection emails with 11 separate emails initially voicing opposition, but some of those messages were concerned that the apartments would replace the commercial development, not supplement it.
Piech said once that was clarified much of the opposition was retracted, and he pointed out The Boulevard project aligned with the District 4 Master Plan created in 2019.
“So, it is a multiuse type facility that we have seen recently in our Navarre master plan. That kind of goes with the development of that area as an anchor for Navarre, and I think it is going to bring in a lot of the things the people of Navarre are looking for as far as retail and restaurants,” Piech said.
Initially made public in February 2018, conceptual site plans for The Boulevard included a movie theater, retail shops and restaurants all situated in a walkable plaza including a pond with a walking trail.
Conceptual collages for the site show an apartment complex with high-end amenities, retailers such as Home Goods and Ross, a dog park and outdoor entertainment space, waterfront restaurants and walkability throughout.
The nearly 34-acre property is owned by Navarre Beach Crossings LLC, a company registered to Craig Kruse and Chandler Huff. Also involved in the project is developer Merg Hoffman. Hoffman has prior experience creating similar projects for areas throughout the southeast. He also had a hand in the construction of the Publix shopping complex neighboring the property.
The land was purchased in January 2018 for roughly $5.5 million.
The applicant for the conditional use is Jack T. Haylett, senior vice president of Branch Acquisition Company LLC, a company based in Atlanta. Haylett is a new name added to the mix.
As the project has progress, there have been some hiccups in what is feasible said Piech.
“There’s been some changes, movie theaters and all that didn’t quite work out. They’ve come back to us to look to put…like 300 apartments right within the retail,” Piech said. “The retail is going to be there surrounding it. It is going to be a gated community in there. There will be box stores and restaurants.”
Kruse has also been optimistic about the project’s future, though he hesitates to give any official dates for completion.
With the latest county approval, site plans for the project begin moving forward through permitting. Dirt could be moving soon at The Boulevard site.
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