|By Dusty Ricketts, Northwest Florida
Daily News, Fort Walton BeachMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 23, 2012--MILTON -- Santa Rosa County commissioners believe it's time for Navarre Beach to get a new hotel.
Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to direct the county staff to develop an incentive package to help persuade a developer to build a new hotel.
"(Commissioners) just asked staff to try to come up with some kind of recommendations or alternatives for an incentive package," County Administrator Hunter Walker said. "Since the site that we're talking about is on Navarre Beach, (the possible incentives) would be some kind of lease fee reduction or water/sewer tap reduction. Those types of things."
Walker said the staff will develop those and other possible incentives the county could offer a hotel builder. He hopes to have a plan ready for commissioners to consider at their first meeting in April.
Walker said the staff likely will add some minimum requirements, such as a certain number of rooms and employees, that a developer must meet to qualify the incentives.
Navarre Beach has been without a hotel since the Holiday Inn was destroyed during Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Many residents and business owners have said for years that building a new hotel would be the best thing the county could do to grow Navarre Beach's tourism business.
The county's Tourist Development Council has asked Santa Rosa officials to look into offering an incentive package to bring in a new hotel. Kate Wilkes, the TDC's executive director, said she was pleased commissioners and staff are moving forward with it.
"We think it'd be great," Wilkes said. "We've always wanted a hotel out there that brings people to Navarre Beach, and they see how nice it is and they come back and stay in a condo for a week and sometimes they buy units.
"It would be absolutely great for our economy," she added. "A lot of people just want to stay in a hotel. They don't want to cook. They don't need a kitchen. They'd just rather stay in a hotel."
(c)2012 the Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.)
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