|By Amanda Brannon, Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jun. 1, 2005 - DESTIN -- Construction is under way on The Palms of Destin Resort and Conference Center, a new development that will feature two condominium towers, villas and meeting facilities.
"It's the first planned development in Destin that has conference capabilities and is designed to host conferences," said developer Tom Becnel.
Located on the north side of U.S. Highway 98, the 14.3-acre property also borders Two Trees Road and Commons Drive. It was previously vacant and undeveloped land and sits directly east of Destin City Hall.
Becnel said the new project is unique because of the size of meeting space it offers. Conference rooms will be able to accommodate 500 people standing and 350 seated, he said.
"That doesn't exist in Destin," he said. From a seven-course meal for a formal wedding to hors d'oeuvres for a business cocktail party, the conference center will be able to cater to any event, he said.
The main building where the conference rooms are located includes a fitness center, spa, game room, coffee shop and restaurant. In addition to a large lagoon pool, there also will be a children's pool, tennis and basketball courts and a jogging trail.
Although owners and guests at The Palms of Destin won't have rooms directly on the beach, Becnel said the property will run a shuttle bus to nearby Henderson Beach State Park, a beautiful beach Becnel said is underutilized.
"It's a little bit unique to the Destin market," Becnel said of the development.
Two 12-story, 135-foot-tall condominium towers will hold 416 units, and 14 one-story villas will sit by the pool.
Condominium units have four different floorplans for 1 1/2, 2 or 3 bedrooms with two bathrooms. Units have sold for between $425,000 and $550,000, and most of them are gone, Becnel said.
Villas by the pool offer two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
He estimates construction will be complete in December 2006, and the finished development could open in late January or early February 2007.
"It's going to be a very distinctive landmark," Becnel said.
The Palms of Destin sits across U.S. 98 from Silver Shells Beach Resort and Spa, which also was developed by Becnel.
Other development projects from Becnel include Silver Beach Towers in Destin and One Beach Club Drive and Pine Ridge Villas in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.
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