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Navarre Beach may soon get a hotel
NAVARRE -- Navarre Beach has been without a hotel for nine years, but that might soon change.
Hurricane Ivan wiped out the Holiday Inn. The owners of the old Holiday Inn are now talking about building a new hotel on that same site but it could cost the county millions of dollars.
The site is now an empty concrete slab with overgrown weeds. When Navarre Beach lost the Holiday Inn during Hurricane Ivan. They also lost the crowd of weekenders who come out for just a day or two at the beach. The only option out there now is condos, so many people think rebuilding it is long overdue.
Rich Querney said, "Out here we don't want to be a Destin or Pensacola, but you have to have growth. That's a good start."
But it comes at a cost, 9 years of back property taxes. According to property tax records, they owe about 2.9 million dollars, The hotelier is asking the Board of commissioners to forgive some of that debt. Robert Coley lives out on Navarre Beach and said, " They have not paid taxes since they started taxing Navarre Beach. We want to be sure those taxes are paid before they build hotel because the rest of us have to pay taxes and I think its a fairness issue."
Querney said, "If they owe that money they should pay it. If it were that easy, I'd ask my government to forgive my taxes."
The hotel owners, Holi Corp say it will be huge for the economy. They hope to break ground in 2014 open before summer 2015. The 160 room hotel will cost 20-30 million dollars to build and create 75 new jobs. It's expected to bring in about $300,000 a year in bed taxes. They are hoping the commissioners consider all the benefits and see if it outweighs the debt they owe. Some people agree, saying sometimes you have to give a little to gain a lot. Kyle Mallory is visiting from Tennessee. He said, "You gotta make sure whatever you do is good for tourist environment. All that money funds schools and other tourist stuff ."
Santa Rosa County will discuss and possibly vote on the concessions and hotel on Thursday.