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Teresa

SoWal Guide
Staff member
Nov 15, 2004
28,730
4,032
South Walton, FL
sowal.com
In my short time here, I come to quickly realize that SoWal is a landlord and renters’ town. Accommodations are made to value and promote this economy. Seaside is merely a product of this culture. So, we should not be surprised by what is happening. Landlords collect the benefits of rental income while not having to deal with the frustrations or inconveniences their renters create for others.
It's a Florida beach town driven by tourism. In one of the fastest growing counties in the state. People have been moving to the area for as long as I can remember.. It is a great place for families. But it isn't for everyone. Many people decide to move back to the cities or places that offer more traditional life and work experiences.

There are as many wonderful aspects of life in South Walton as there are not so great things. As is the case anywhere else. It's all in what you may prefer for your lifestyle. I'm thankful for those who live and work here making it such a unique place in so many ways.

Florida can be really weird. But it's beautiful. I do love its natural beauty. It's laid back and hard working. Good old boy politics all over the place. Corruption. Greed everywhere. Rampant development. Not an environmental care in the world. We need to do better. It's worth it.

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Truman

Beach Fanatic
Apr 3, 2009
628
240
You think it was only in the last 10 years?
It is interesting how people have different perspectives depending on if they are natives, or when they imported themselves to SoWal.

Old timers say the time before Seaside was tops. Davis and Duany will live in infamy.

And true, there was nothing like the experience of the jukebox and sandy floors at the old store in Grayton. A time when every resident was a beach bum of some sort and every visitor wanted to be. People who valued the beach above all, and cherished the landscape.

The decades since are sort of marked by when subsequent urban towns were founded.
Pre-Rosemary (non-resident corporate development enters the picture - houses pop up like mushrooms)
Pre-Watercolor
Pre-Alys
etc.

Then there are other markers for other people:
Sandestin development
Eden Gardens donated to the state
Connecting Scenic 30A from end to end
S&L crisis leading to a lot of land ending up in state hands
Paving Grayton Beach
Patrone's closing
St. Joe becoming a developer
The Red Bar founded
4-laning Hwy 98
The Truman Show
Publix opens
Monster houses becoming common
2005 storms
Goodbye Seagrove Villas Motel
Real estate bubble & pop
DR Horton and the like
4-laning 331 & bridge
oil spill
Goodbye Seagrove Village Market
BCC bought out by business

Around 2000 things were accelerating (appreciating) quickly but still under control. St. Joe's transition to real estate developer was ground shaking. It was exciting and ominous at the same time. I am still glad that their early days were based in a conservative, well-established, and well-funded company that was focused on conservation and quality. WaterSound Beach being the best example of that.

St. Joe has gone through a lot of growing pains since the early days. The evolution in to partnerships has eroded the product. Specifically with some high-volume developers who are completely bulldozing some beautiful land. Not leaving a single twisted sand pine or even a lonely wildflower. Where St. Joe execs once saw beautiful and precious coastal habit, they now hold their noses and see worthless coastal scrub.

The real estate bubble was the introduction of the type of attention and development that has ruined almost every other Florida region. We got a reprieve from the bubble popping but very short and the money that has flowed in since then is staggering.

There are now people who live here that never go to the beach. And if they ever do they will find something to not like about it. They are concerned only with money and all the problems it creates for them. They prefer to look at dolphins on their phone than in the actual Gulf.

We are now entering a phase of big development that is like a steamroller 30 miles wide.

Whatever your perspective, the good old days are gone, and Panama (the country) is the new Redneck Riviera.
 

Bob Wells

Beach Fanatic
Jul 25, 2008
3,356
1,331
It is interesting how people have different perspectives depending on if they are natives, or when they imported themselves to SoWal.

Old timers say the time before Seaside was tops. Davis and Duany will live in infamy.

And true, there was nothing like the experience of the jukebox and sandy floors at the old store in Grayton. A time when every resident was a beach bum of some sort and every visitor wanted to be. People who valued the beach above all, and cherished the landscape.

The decades since are sort of marked by when subsequent urban towns were founded.
Pre-Rosemary (non-resident corporate development enters the picture - houses pop up like mushrooms)
Pre-Watercolor
Pre-Alys
etc.

Then there are other markers for other people:
Sandestin development
Eden Gardens donated to the state
Connecting Scenic 30A from end to end
S&L crisis leading to a lot of land ending up in state hands
Paving Grayton Beach
Patrone's closing
St. Joe becoming a developer
The Red Bar founded
4-laning Hwy 98
The Truman Show
Publix opens
Monster houses becoming common
2005 storms
Goodbye Seagrove Villas Motel
Real estate bubble & pop
DR Horton and the like
4-laning 331 & bridge
oil spill
Goodbye Seagrove Village Market
BCC bought out by business

Around 2000 things were accelerating (appreciating) quickly but still under control. St. Joe's transition to real estate developer was ground shaking. It was exciting and ominous at the same time. I am still glad that their early days were based in a conservative, well-established, and well-funded company that was focused on conservation and quality. WaterSound Beach being the best example of that.

St. Joe has gone through a lot of growing pains since the early days. The evolution in to partnerships has eroded the product. Specifically with some high-volume developers who are completely bulldozing some beautiful land. Not leaving a single twisted sand pine or even a lonely wildflower. Where St. Joe execs once saw beautiful and precious coastal habit, they now hold their noses and see worthless coastal scrub.

The real estate bubble was the introduction of the type of attention and development that has ruined almost every other Florida region. We got a reprieve from the bubble popping but very short and the money that has flowed in since then is staggering.

There are now people who live here that never go to the beach. And if they ever do they will find something to not like about it. They are concerned only with money and all the problems it creates for them. They prefer to look at dolphins on their phone than in the actual Gulf.

We are now entering a phase of big development that is like a steamroller 30 miles wide.

Whatever your perspective, the good old days are gone, and Panama (the country) is the new Redneck Riviera.
Been in the greater Emerald Coast area since 1981, delivered lumber to Seaside and Sandestin. Moved to Santa Rosa Beach, north of 98, and lived there til 05. Now live in Freeport. I can Remember when people would complain about tourism and growth it seems forever. I have said it before, those who complain about growth, unless you were born and raised here, are part of the problem. We moved here, "found paradise" and thought it would stay this way forever. That didn't happen and we wanted to stop what we perceived as overdevelopment. I admit I am part of the issue with the growth in Walton County. Putting the genie back in the bottle isn't going to happen and as the State Legislature seems to be more inclined to legislate growth from Tallahassee it becomes even more of struggle. Short of a Mexico Beach scenario, which I pray NEVER EVER HAPPENS, we are stuck with what we have. We might see some small changes because of local government changing some things, but I think it will not be near enough for most folks who seem to think we can fix it. Just my 2 cents.
 

Lake View Too

SoWal Insider
Nov 16, 2008
7,155
3,676
Eastern Lake
It is interesting how people have different perspectives depending on if they are natives, or when they imported themselves to SoWal.

Old timers say the time before Seaside was tops. Davis and Duany will live in infamy.

And true, there was nothing like the experience of the jukebox and sandy floors at the old store in Grayton. A time when every resident was a beach bum of some sort and every visitor wanted to be. People who valued the beach above all, and cherished the landscape.

The decades since are sort of marked by when subsequent urban towns were founded.
Pre-Rosemary (non-resident corporate development enters the picture - houses pop up like mushrooms)
Pre-Watercolor
Pre-Alys
etc.

Then there are other markers for other people:
Sandestin development
Eden Gardens donated to the state
Connecting Scenic 30A from end to end
S&L crisis leading to a lot of land ending up in state hands
Paving Grayton Beach
Patrone's closing
St. Joe becoming a developer
The Red Bar founded
4-laning Hwy 98
The Truman Show
Publix opens
Monster houses becoming common
2005 storms
Goodbye Seagrove Villas Motel
Real estate bubble & pop
DR Horton and the like
4-laning 331 & bridge
oil spill
Goodbye Seagrove Village Market
BCC bought out by business

Around 2000 things were accelerating (appreciating) quickly but still under control. St. Joe's transition to real estate developer was ground shaking. It was exciting and ominous at the same time. I am still glad that their early days were based in a conservative, well-established, and well-funded company that was focused on conservation and quality. WaterSound Beach being the best example of that.

St. Joe has gone through a lot of growing pains since the early days. The evolution in to partnerships has eroded the product. Specifically with some high-volume developers who are completely bulldozing some beautiful land. Not leaving a single twisted sand pine or even a lonely wildflower. Where St. Joe execs once saw beautiful and precious coastal habit, they now hold their noses and see worthless coastal scrub.

The real estate bubble was the introduction of the type of attention and development that has ruined almost every other Florida region. We got a reprieve from the bubble popping but very short and the money that has flowed in since then is staggering.

There are now people who live here that never go to the beach. And if they ever do they will find something to not like about it. They are concerned only with money and all the problems it creates for them. They prefer to look at dolphins on their phone than in the actual Gulf.

We are now entering a phase of big development that is like a steamroller 30 miles wide.

Whatever your perspective, the good old days are gone, and Panama (the country) is the new Redneck Riviera.
As someone who has vacationed here since 1959 and who has been living here continuously since 1983, I would say that the fun and excitement of Seaside emerging was wonderful. Rosemary, Watercolor, Watersound, and Alys just added grace and dignity to the area. All of them planned developments with sense and unity of vision. After that, came the hordes of greedy developers and investors, none of them interested in the quality of life, only the re-sell value and the rental profit. Without beating this dead horse to death, the Seagrove I loved and invested my whole life in, is basically ruined. Period. I spend too much of my day, these days, sitting in my running truck, trying to find a break in traffic, just to make a left turn onto 30-A. I now have to think of alternative paths. If I take a right turn, can I go down and make a u-turn without hitting a bicycler or a golf cart? It's that grim out there. And it will not get better. I wish I had a bright note to end this post with, but I don't.
 

Pura.Vida

Beach Comber
Jun 12, 2019
32
11
Seacrest
I enjoy hearing the stories of the "old days" in SoWal. I'm reading 2 good books about SoWal...."Of Days Gone By..." and "The Way We Were..." The primary frustration imo is the lack of enforcement.....OF ANYTHING! Whether it's related to parking, driving, beach, building, etc. I really feel enforcement of current codes, ordinances, etc could really help in creating a better lifestyle
 

Lake View Too

SoWal Insider
Nov 16, 2008
7,155
3,676
Eastern Lake
I enjoy hearing the stories of the "old days" in SoWal. I'm reading 2 good books about SoWal...."Of Days Gone By..." and "The Way We Were..." The primary frustration imo is the lack of enforcement.....OF ANYTHING! Whether it's related to parking, driving, beach, building, etc. I really feel enforcement of current codes, ordinances, etc could really help in creating a better lifestyle
You should also read “Postcards of Seagrove”. It’s at Sundog Books and on Amazon.
 

Dreamer

Beach Lover
Dec 29, 2014
175
78
Northwest Georgia
As someone who has vacationed here since 1959 and who has been living here continuously since 1983, I would say that the fun and excitement of Seaside emerging was wonderful. Rosemary, Watercolor, Watersound, and Alys just added grace and dignity to the area. All of them planned developments with sense and unity of vision. After that, came the hordes of greedy developers and investors, none of them interested in the quality of life, only the re-sell value and the rental profit. Without beating this dead horse to death, the Seagrove I loved and invested my whole life in, is basically ruined. Period. I spend too much of my day, these days, sitting in my running truck, trying to find a break in traffic, just to make a left turn onto 30-A. I now have to think of alternative paths. If I take a right turn, can I go down and make a u-turn without hitting a bicycler or a golf cart? It's that grim out there. And it will not get better. I wish I had a bright note to end this post with, but I don't.
We just sold our dream lot in grayton beach last year. Owned it for 20 yrs. Haven't vacationed there in forever. So sad!!!!!
 

bob1

Beach Fanatic
Jun 26, 2010
372
267
My head is in the sand so it's pretty quiet but I am kind of concerned my lily white ass is up in the air and an easy target for steamrollers and realtors.
 
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