02-19-2012, 12:43 PM #1
Sandestin building new condos and homes
Sandestin owner Tom Becnel:
“It’s my opinion that we’re coming out of the real estate recession and we’re at the beginning of the next cycle, and we want to be prepared for that event”
Sandestin already is the largest beach resort community in Northwest Florida, with nearly 5,000 single-family homes, villas and condominiums.
Becnel is in the early stages of planning a new 96-unit condominium and a 36-home housing development. Those are just two of the completed, ongoing or upcoming projects at the resort.
“We continue to invest in capital improvements throughout Sandestin,” Becnel said. “Some are noticeable and some are not, simply by their nature.
The condo project is planned for the Osprey Point property, located between the Heron Walk and Baypine Cottages communities in the lakeside area. Becnel said teams were focused on the engineering, floor plan designs and elevations.
When designs get a little further along, he plans to put the units on the market this spring. If the sales effort is successful, he anticipates starting construction this fall.
The new subdivision will be built on roughly 13 acres across the street from the Burnt Pine Golf Club. Becnel said it is too early to say when construction could start.
“Right now, we need inventory,” Becnel said. “Sandestin historically has 550 to 600 listings at all times because of the size of the resort. We’re down well below 400 right now, which means we have more people looking for condominiums and homes than are available. With 5,000 homes here, the 300 or so on the market do not fulfill the wide variety of buyers coming to Sandestin.
“We think it’s an opportune time to introduce a new project,” he added. “We’re designing it to the new buyer that we feel is going to be the type of individual who is willing to make an investment for the long-term, not speculators. We’re pretty optimistic that it will be well received.”
Becnel, owner of the Becnel Co., bought Sandestin from Intrawest in March 2010.
Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on a nearly $2 million renovation to Bayside Inn that should be completed by the end of March. Work started in December and now is about 70 percent complete. When finished, there will be new furniture in all the condominiums and an expanded pool deck.
Becnel said the first units at Bayside Inn should be completed in less than two weeks. After that, entire floors are expected to be finished on a weekly basis until the entire project is competed. The development then will be rebranded with a new name and logo.
“The priority right now is to get the building finished because we have guests already scheduled to come in the spring,” Becnel said. “The pool area will not take as long, and that will be done as soon as they finish with the painting and the remodeling of the existing building. I think it will be seamless.”
The Village of Baytowne Wharf also has a number of additions in the pipeline.
Last summer, Becnel submitted a permit application to the Army Corps of Engineers for construction of a new day pier and boat dock for 50 to 70 boats 100 feet and longer.
Becnel hopes the Corps of Engineers will approve the permit in the next 60 days.
“As soon as the Corps releases that permit, we will begin construction of that entire development, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to do that this spring,” Becnel said.
The new pier and expanded boat docks are just two of the projects at Baytowne Marina, which was a major focus of improvements last year when the beach was extended to allow events such as luaus for guests and the public.
This summer, Sandestin will bring in a floating water park will have YOLO boards available.
Other additions coming to the Village of Baytowne Wharf include the Hofbräu Beer Garden, which should be open for spring break; a Ben & Jerry’s that should open in about two months; and Blast Arcade, which will be in a new building and is expected to open in late May.
“We’re seeing a number of other tenants looking for expansion opportunities,” Becnel said. “I agreed to two expansions (Monday). I believe that the majority of people in Baytowne are looking forward to a very good spring and summer, and are very optimistic about what the future holds for them.”
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