Chairman Jeff Bergosh planning proposal to move Bay Center replacement project forward

Chairman Jeff Bergosh planning proposal to move Bay Center replacement project forward

An Escambia County Commissioner has come up with a plan to move forward with replacing the Pensacola Bay Center.

On Thursday night, Chairman Jeff Bergosh will ask his fellow commissioners to support an $80 million proposal from developers and sign a “letter of intent.”

“It protects the county,” Bergosh said. “It just says, listen, if the developers do this, then the county will do this. Our interests are protected, but it shows a level of interest that will hopefully keep us moving forward in the Triumph process.”

The commission has not fully endorsed the project yet. That has put funding applications on hold. The county is relying on Triumph funds, that is money from the BP oil spill settlement, to pay $25 million of the project. Begosh said they were also hoping for a federal “new market tax credit” to cover another $20 million. However, that credit is for impoverished and low-income areas and the downtown sites discussed so far would not qualify. Bergosh said they have asked the developer to consider other locations.

Channel 3 News asked some folks where they would like to see the new facility.

“For me, I think it would be inconvenient to go all the way north of I-10 to get the Bay Center because it’s kind of going opposite of everywhere I want to be,” Nick DeGuzman said.

Fallon Earlington said downtown is a terrible idea. She said there are few places to stay overnight and parking is a nightmare.

“If you have kids like me, it’s horrible trying to go there for graduation,” Earlington said. “Bringing the kids and the gifts for the graduates so, I think they should move it.”

Bergosh said there are options. He said the board needs to decide what they want.

“We owe it to Triumph, we owe it to the citizens, we owe it to the people who brought this proposal forward to give them a year or no, up or down answer,” Bergosh said. “It’s been a year.”

Bergosh said his plan includes a call for a financial review of the project by a third pary. He wants to make sure that county is getting a good deal and can back of it is not.

The county commission meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday night.

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