13th Annual Downtown Issue
Survey Says-A look at Pensacola’s NPS Jefferson Street goes Green The Accommodating Ambassador’s Program
An Exclusive Interview with
Quint Studer Quirky Pensacola Icons Pedaling into the Future
DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT 16 new projects that will change the landscape of downtown Pensacola’s urban core
2 | Business Climate | nwflbusinessclimate.com
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with Guest composer
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Scott Kluksdahl, cello & UWF Singers
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Owners Malcolm & Glenys Ballinger Publisher Malcolm Ballinger email@example.com Executive Editor Kelly Oden firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director Guy Stevens email@example.com Graphic Designer/Ad Coordinator Carly Stone firstname.lastname@example.org Editor +Writer Hana Frenette email@example.com Assistant Editor Tanner Yea firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Intern Taylor Purvee Contributing Writers Jennifer Leigh, Heidi Travis, Haley Weaver Sales & Marketing Paula Rode, Account Executive ext. 28 email@example.com Geneva Strange, Account Executive ext. 21 firstname.lastname@example.org
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The New Face of
Ten years ago, a stroll down Palafox after 9 pm would have been a dim and fairly quiet experience. The neon signs of Subway and Blimpie would be turned off for the night and food options were often limited to the nearby Waffle House or chain restaurants a few miles away. The only activity on the street would likely be a light from New York Nick’s or Intermission’s, washing over the sidewalk to illuminate a few late night patrons and friends. Depending on the night of the week, you might hear music pulsing from Seville Quarter on Government Street, forever a beacon of fun amidst the changing downtown landscape. Flash forward to 2017 and Palafox Street and the surrounding downtown blocks are full of life—no matter the time of day, or day of the week. Restaurants, bars, boutiques, cafes, coffee shops, and workout studios are scattered throughout the small but dense urban core, providing new and exciting experiences along with opportunities for major economic development. In our 13th Annual issue of Business Climate, we explore the new developments and projects driving the evolution of our growing city. Pensacola’s main attraction has long been it’s sugary white beaches and glimmering Gulf Coast, but now the downtown area is making a name for itself as a destination as well. Those who live, work and play in Pensacola are beginning to spend their Saturdays equally split between the beach and the Palafox Market, with visitors and tourists following suit. The number of people spending time in downtown Pensacola is growing rapidly, and this year, patrons of downtown will see options pop up for something that’s never been widely available before in the city—an abundance of downtown living. Southtowne Apartments will bring more than 250 residential options to the urban core, with more than 15 other developments following suit. The abundance of more people regularly inhabiting the downtown area is sure to bring an added economic boost, as restaurants, cafes and shops plan for additional traffic. The Downtown Improvement Board (DIB) is also poised and ready to launch several new programs that will compliment the influx of these new residents, including a sustainable greenery streetscapes and a bike share program, which will make moving around the city easier and more cost effective for visitors and locals alike. It’s an exciting time to live in Pensacola as we watch the city’s blueprint change shape almost daily with the addition of more jobs, construction opportunities, business developments, and residential planning. Here’s to the history and perseverance of our historic Panhandle city and to its bright and exciting future developments.
Hana Frenette, Editor
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Features Pedaling into the Future
Dowtown Pensacola officials plan to partner with a private company to bring a bike share program to city streets.
Downtown Pensacola now has an official Net Promoter Score (NPS) for the first time in history.
Downtown’s Accommodating 17 Ambassadors
Pensacola will soon welcome downtown ambassadors: individuals who will help with cleaning, providing information, and making downtown Pensacola even better.
Take a look at 16 new developments that will change the landscape of Penascola’s urban core.
Sailing Out of the Past
Tall Ships Challenge Gulf Coast 2018 is set to start in Pensacola in April, showcasing the history and majesty of the type of sailing vessels that called Pensacola home centuries ago. 8 | Business Climate | nwflbusinessclimate.com
An Exclusive Interview with Quint Studer
An in-depth interview with community leader, entrepreneur, and development catalyst Quint Studer about his early career, time at Studer Group and involvement in the Pensacola community.
Pensacola Technology 42 Campus’ Future Remains Open
The Pensacola Technology Campus has several potential tenants expressing interest in the property, leaving its future open and optimistic.
Jefferson Street Goes Green
Curiouser and Curiouser!
Urban life and nature come together as one in the new Jefferson Streetscape, which brings a spot of greenery and colorful flowers to Jefferson Street.
Take a look at some of the most interesting, well-loved, and quirky elements of Downtown Pensacola.
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Pedaling into the Future By Jennifer Leigh
magine being able to travel all over downtown Pensacola without searching for a parking spot or ordering a Lyft. Across the country, bike share programs are gaining popularity with over 88 million trips made between 2010 and 2016 in 55 different systems, according to data from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). Next year, downtown Pensacola will be added to those statistics as it implements the city’s first bike share program. “Bike share mobility adds
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value to a city and allows people to move around in a district for a low expense,” said Curt Morse, executive director of the Downtown Improvement Board. “And it’s a cool amenity.” Gotcha Bike, of the parent organization The Gotcha Group, will be working with the city to customize the program, Morse said. Since Gotcha Bike started in 2014, it has implemented bike share programs to 21 cities and universities around the U.S. including Florida State University and the city of Atlanta.
“They’ve cracked the code on how to position bikes,” Morse said in reference to Bike Share. “The only thing we have to do is say ‘yes.’ There’s no risk, no financial commitment.” Morse said the bike share program could be launched as early as February of next year. It’s perfect timing since downtown’s population will greatly increase with the anticipated Southtowne Apartments. “When that building fills to capacity, that’s (hundreds) of people moving downtown,” he said. “Not to mention other condos, apartments and hotels.” Sean Flood, CEO of The Gotcha Group calls Gotcha Bike a “turn key bike share program.” The program is funded through partnerships and sponsorships along with ridership fees. “Bike share is an alternative form of transportation that’s trending in other parts of the U.S.,” Flood said. “It’s less expensive, better for you, better for the environment. It shows the city really does care.” Representatives with Gotcha work with the city to customize the program including what the bikes would look like and where they will be available to rent. Flood said the
Bike share is an alternative form of transportation that’s trending in other parts of the U.S.,” Flood said. “It’s less expensive, better for you, better for the environment. It shows the city really does care.”
bikes collect data that is tracked in real time to help determine best practices. “It shows data such as individual trips and distance traveled,” he explained. “We’re about to break that down and draw real conclusions.” In May this year, Gotcha Bike was launched in Charleston, South Carolina. “The data and GPS technology are incredible,” said Brigette Lajoie of The Gotcha Group. “We launched 250 bicycles in the city of Charleston already, we have over 4,800 members that have taken over 14,800 trips, burning 1,300,000 calories, reducing 29,300 carbon emissions, and saving over $19,000 from biking versus driving.” On the Gotcha Bike website, the bike share rental is broken down into simple steps. People can reserve bikes using an app or directly at the bike using its keypad. Bikes are then unlocked with a four-digit
code, which you’ll use again after you make any pit stops. To end a trip, just lock the bike at one of the hubs. On her recent trip to Pensacola, Lajoie said she felt Gotcha Bike would easily fit into Pensacola’s aesthetic. “The partnership just makes sense,” she said. “I think it would complement the ‘Upside of Florida.’” Gotcha Bike racks are not bolted in nor do they require electricity, which makes them easy to reposition as needed, Flood said. “We’re excited about it,” said Flood. “This is nothing but a positive for the city. It promotes health and wellness, true sustainability, decreases the number of cars on the road. It really is a beautiful downtown area. It’s a natural fit.” Bike share is not only cost effective for the bike riders, but for the city as well. According to
a 2011 article from the National League of Cities (NLC), city officials have found that building bicycling infrastructure is a better investment than car infrastructure. While an above ground parking garage could cost about $16,000 per space, on-street bicycle parking can cost about $150 per bike and is more space efficient. As Morse points out, downtown Pensacola doesn’t so much have a parking problem, but a “walking problem” since not all parking is close to downtown attractions. The bike share program is just one of the new transportation methods coming to downtown next year. Also launching in spring of 2018, are the National Park Service ferries connecting passengers to downtown Pensacola, Gulf Island National Seashore and Pensacola Beach. Electric trams will also be implemented to shuttle ferry passengers. Morse said bike share is just another way to move people around the city. It’s not only convenient, but allows people to explore and experience new parts of the city. If it proves successful in the downtown area, Morse said the program could expand to Pensacola Beach, Pensacola State College and the University of West Florida. “We’re looking at amenities that other cities have—cities that clearly get it,” Morse said. “We’re really no different than them. Our advantage is this huge natural resource called the beach. We want to deliver an experience that is memorable. We want people in other counties to say, ‘Why can’t we be like Pensacola?’”
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s Executive Director of the Downtown Improvement Board (DIB), Curt Morse has both a professional and personal interest in ensuring residents and visitors alike are enjoying their time in downtown Pensacola. The very mission of the DIB is to tirelessly enhance and promote Pensacola as a vibrant destination, and in August, the organization took a big step forward in their quest to learn more about how they can make downtown Pensacola more enjoyable. The DIB hired an Atlanta-based research and consulting firm, Majority Opinion Research, to conduct a Net Promoter Score
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By Hana Frenette (NPS) within the downtown area, and gleaned exactly what people liked, along with specific things they hope to add to the streets of downtown. “There’s a business adage that says, ‘if you can measure it, you can improve it,’” Morse said. “Clearly we can measure customer satisfaction. So by measuring and benchmarking it, we can now begin to pick those things that are important to the user of downtown and improve them. “ Morse noted the ultimate goal of acquiring a NPS is to have a definitive starting point for user satisfaction, and to then begin designing and refining programs to improve that score. A total of 202 downtown satisfaction surveys were completed between August 22 and Sept. 18. Of the 202 surveys, 180 were conducted through interviews on tablets with people within the downtown area, and 22 were completed via an online survey that
was sent out by the DIB. The DIB sent the survey to a total of 654 individual email addresses. The completed survey results reveal downtown Pensacola has a current NPS of 86. This means that downtown Pensacola is perceived very positively, with 86 percent of people acting as “promoters” of downtown, but also shows there is room for improvement. For reference, Net Promoter Scores can range from -100 to 100. Jeff Shusterman, President of Majority Opinion Research, explained that the survey questions were developed to align with current or potential DIB initiatives and to help direct future plans. “Ultimately, this study and its results mean that Downtown Pensacola now objectively knows how it is perceived today, has guidance to maintain and improve positive perceptions over time, and has the mechanism to track the impact of future efforts to maintain and improve the downtown area,” Shusterman said. The surveys shows at any given time, downtown Pensacola patrons are a mix of residents (86 percent) and visitors (14 percent.) The average age of adults is 42, although 40 percent of people surveyed were identified as millennials. The average household incomes are nearly $74,000, although 41 percent have incomes under $50,000 and 20 percent have incomes of $100,000 or more. Roughly 59 percent of people surveyed were Caucasian/white, 30 percent African-American/black, 5 percent Asian, 3 percent Hispanic and 3 percent identified as other races. The survey responses were ranked on a 10-point scale and included questions regarding feeling safe downtown during the day and at night, family-friendliness, availibility of dining options, presence of a vibrant nightlife, local economic conditions, parking costs, and shopping options. “While nearly six out of 10 downtown patrons and stakeholders can not think of anything missing from downtown Pensacola, others would like to see more parking, public restrooms, additional retail shops, more clubs (dancing and comedy), and
more diversity,” Shusterman noted. Other suggestions from survey takers included “more mixed retail,” “major stores or more options for mainstream clothing,” “things for 16-21 year olds to do that are reasonably priced,” “and more cultural diversity, shopping diversity, and restaurant diversity.” More than 61 percent of survey takers also stated they were “very/somewhat” interested in a bike share program coming to the downtown area. Shusterman said the primary value of the NPS is that the scores have been shown to have a strong correlation to business growth and serve as a predictor of future growth, more so than other measures of satisfaction. “It’s also a single, easy to understand number that can be communicated to stakeholders,” he said. “While many other measures will also be tracked over time, the NPS is a single number that represents overall strength of the brand and becomes the most watched number in trending increases or decreases in the perception of that brand – in this case, downtown Pensacola.” Many companies and cities that choose to acquire an NPS continue to survey regularly in the future in order to track their progress and public perceptions. Morse noted the city plans on surveying annually in order to gauge the overall perception of visitors, residents, and stakeholders. “We’ve uncovered some things to do better, and we’re going to use this to benchmark our future successes. Next year our score should hopefully be in the 90s,” Morse said. nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 15
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Accommodating Ambassadors By Taylor Purvee
ensacola’s Downtown Improvement Board (DIB) is launching a new program on Oct. 1 that will help keep the downtown area clean and welcoming. The DIB will hire three new downtown ambassadors who will be working seven days a week to bring more beauty and hospitality into the downtown area. DIB Executive Director, Curt Morse, says he is tired of the environmental neglect he sees when he is downtown. “There are 44 blocks of downtown area. I see and manage all of it every day and I am disappointed with what it is at the moment. I see pieces of trash, cigarette butts, graffiti, weeds, all of these things,” he said. “These little things that people see every
day that aren’t little things at all— they are big things and they’re about to change.” Morse spoke of how business owners in the downtown area work hard to keep their businesses clean and constantly strive to create a nice atmosphere and experience for their customers. “The moment visitors step over that threshold onto the downtown sidewalk, their experience should be just as good as it was in the restaurant or store or gallery they were just in,” he added. “The genesis of our program is to put people on our streets and sidewalks downtown everyday working to affect the appearance and experience that visitors, residents and property owners have when they’re downtown.”
The ambassadors for this program are part of a non-profit organization called Pathways for Change, which helps men and women coming directly from prison as they start their new life and re-enter society. Pathways for Change also takes individuals that have been convicted of a minor felony and, rather than incarcerating them, allows them to learn trades and vocations that will be useful down the road. This way they are not only helping themselves, but are able to dedicate time to community service. “This organization is great because there is a higher possibility these men and women won’t revert back to the life they were living before and now they can have jobs,” Morse said. “I
want to pay this company to hire these talented people that will help bring the beauty back to downtown and take care of the things the city doesn’t cover.” Chris Collins, Chief Operating Officer of Pathways for Change, said they are very excited about the launching of the program. “It is a great opportunity for these men to be a part of this project as ambassadors. It will teach them good citizenship and to take pride in this community,” Collins said. “We really appreciate the support this is getting, and we are excited to be a part of showing everyone how beautiful downtown can be.” The ambassadors that have been selected will be coming from the Everything Outdoors program at Pathways for Change. “We already had a crew from Everything Outdoors and these men met the requirements and the expectations that we had in mind. This program helps men develop skills that employers are looking for: effective communicating skills, problem solving skills, team work and other things they might have otherwise missed out on,” Collins said. Morse says the program is looking for people that will identify what detracts from the beauty of downtown and who can rectify that detraction.» nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 17
“We are looking for competent individuals that can see where things do not belong, whether that is chipped paint on a light pole or the two million pieces of gum stuck on the side walk,” Morse said. Morse says he realizes the downtown area isn’t quite Disney World, but it is an entertainment hub and it matters what visitors think when they experience it. “When people go back home to Pittsburgh or Houston or England, wherever it may be, I want them to go back and tell their friends and families how beautiful our downtown area is. Maybe they went to one of our delicious restaurants or saw a show at Vinyl or bought something unique from one of our stores. I want visitors to look at downtown
as a destination, just as much as they do the beach,” he said. When asked about the origin of the program, Morse said his peers in Mobile, Alabama have a similar program that Pensacola has been using as a model. He noted these programs are actually all over the place: New Orleans; Denver; Tampa; and Greenville, South Carolina. Morse and the DIB are using these programs as prototypes for what the Pensacola ambassador program should be. “This is not a unique program, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to start this up locally,” he said. Along with keeping the beautiful downtown area neat and clean, the ambassadors will also help make visitors feel welcome. They will
“The genesis of our program is to put people on our streets and sidewalks downtown everyday working to affect the appearance and experience that visitors, residents and property owners have when they’re downtown.”
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be present on the street ready to answer any questions visitors might have and they will be looking for any opportunity to engage the public. Morse says that one of the most important things these new ambassadors will have are hospitality skills— as a huge part of their job is to make visitors and locals feel more at home. They will have brochures and answers readily available for anyone who is looking for something specific or simply needs a recommendation for something fun to do. Morse says that he is extremely excited for what the future holds for these new ambassadors and downtown Pensacola. “This is long term, this is forever,” says Morse. “Oct. 1 is a new start for downtown.”
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DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT downtown pensacola
his year saw an unprecedented number of new developments announced for the downtown Pensacola area. In addition to the much-anticipated, Studerdeveloped Southtowne building comes a plethora of new opportunities to enjoy our growing city ranging from luxury townhouses and affordable single-family homes, to shopping, dining, and networking spaces. Pensacola is steadily becoming a vibrant, bustling city and shows no signs of slowing down in 2018.
By Hana Frenette nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 21
RESIDENTIAL GIRARD pLACE
his 23-unit luxury residential development will occupy the controversial property that was once the site of the John Sunday House, a historic home built by successful early 20th century African-American homebuilder, John Sunday. According to Dean Parker, managing partner of Girard Place developer, Segen Ventures, this will be the first connected community in downtown Pensacola. “This is a fully automated home,” Parker said. “You will not need a set of keys for anything in these homes—you can do everything with a phone—lock the doors, turn down the volume of music or the TV, security, turning the lights on and off—literally one hundred percent automated.” The homes will also offer ultra high speed internet, hardwood 8-foot-tall front doors, crown molding, and handmade cabinetry, and Parker states, they are built for luxury.
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“Think of this as the most state-of-the-art building from the ground up, full of distinct pieces you’d only find in a custom home,” Parker said. “This is 21st century living, blended with that old feeling of Melrose Place with a pool and a nice backyard.” The price of each home will begin at roughly $499k and offer a multitude of unit sizes ranging from two to three bedrooms. Construction is set to begin in October, with a projected end date of June 2018. Parker suggested the homes might appeal to families who’d like to live downtown without losing the feel of a comfortable and spacious home with a yard; professionals looking to be closer to work; and active empty nesters who still enjoy a vibrant and active life. “These won’t just be homes, it will be a community,” Parker said. “Twenty years from now, I believe it will be the best community in downtown.”
S. Tarragona Lofts & E. Intendencia Townhomes Two new smaller-scale residential developments are projected to join the lineup of housing options for those looking to live in the heart of the city. Brian Spencer, architect-developer, is planning to develop two multiresidence buildings near the corner of S. Tarragona and E. Intendencia, within close proximity of the new downtown YMCA and Southtowne, a high density rental housing and mixed-use complex that occupies an entire city block. The S. Tarragona building is a three-story building with four residences. The 1,350 sq. ft. two-bedroom, two bath residences include an attached 75 sq. ft. climate controlled storage area. The residential condominium units are located above a private enclosed parking area with direct access to owners’ elevator and stairway. A separate two-story building, located on E. Intendencia Street is comprised of three residences and will range in size from 3,000 sq. ft. to 1,600 sq. ft. Spencer stated the two buildings will utilize energy saving features, including covered balconies and vegetative screening to mitigate solar heat gain. Spencer noted that an out-of-town buyer has purchased the development rights to construct the E. Intendencia St. building. The buyer intends to use one of the units as a primary residence and will reserve the other two residences for leasing or use as a guest house. “These residences are being developed due to the increasing demand for downtown housing within walking distance to Pensacola’s growing list of downtown amenities such as the YMCA’s fitness facility, indoor swimming pool, as well as the nearby restaurant options, performing arts venues, and properties managed by the UWF Historic Trust.”
THE JUNCTION AT WEST HILL The Junction at West Hill will bring 32 affordable townhomes to the Belmont-DeVilliers neighborhood by winter of 2018. The project began in September 2015 and was an offshoot of the Belmont-DeVilliers neighborhood plan, which ultimately fell through. A Door Properties stepped in and successfully asked city council to rezone the property, allowing for a slightly different plan and more units than were initially planned for. The gated 1300-sqft. homes range from two to three bedrooms units with several different layouts—some with large decks and others with lofts—and are affordably priced between $200,000 and $250,000. “It’s been a long road and we still have a lot of community support for this project, which is awesome” said Kacee Kidnick, a realtor with A Door Properties. A Door Properties is currently taking refundable $1,000 deposits. While they only have 32 units available, they have over 50 deposits, with more than 20 people placed on an overflow waiting list.
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cOTTAGES AT FIVE POINTs The Cottages at Five Points, a new residential development by Pensacola based developer ParsCo, consists of approximately 30 single- family cottages on the former 2.5-acre site of Blount Junior High School on West Gregory Street, between C and D Streets. The new homes are projected to be approximately 1,200 SF with a projected sales price of $199,000, but may vary depending on final architectural plans and specifications. The original Blount Junior High School closed in 1982 and was demolished in 2012. ParsCo expects to begin construction by the end of this year or early 2018.
cOVINGTON PLACE Plans for a 25-unit gated townhouse community have been approved for the site of a long-vacant motel on the corner of West Cervantes and North Baylen Streets. The $12 million development named Covington Place will offer residents the convenience of downtown living, along with the security of a gated suburban neighborhood. “This is a fabulous site and the gateway to the North Hill residential district,” said Charles Liberis, Covington Place developer. “It’s also walking distance to downtown and just two blocks from Interstate 110.” Each unit will be roughly 1,500-2,200 sq. ft., and will cost between $397,000-$500,000. The units will also offer inward-facing garages, and a communal green space courtyard. Demolition began on Oct. 10 and the first building will be completed by June 2018.
Hallmark SUBDIVISION Another former school site, that of 89-year-old Hallmark Elementary School on South E. Street, will soon house 76 townhomes. The five-acre site would offer additional downtown housing options outside of the urban core and just a few blocks west of most current new development. The school was closed in 2011, and listed for sale by the Escambia County School District. The building was then purchased for $1 million in 2013 by Pensacola-based 349 LLC, and was then sold to nationwide homebuilder D.R. Horton.
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MIXED USE SOUTHTOWNE
he long-awaited $58 million Southtowne project is nearing another tier of completion this fall. The space will offer 258 apartments, ranging in size from studios, to one, two and three bedrooms units, and will have spaces for retail and dining on the first floor. The building does not only present exciting future options for new places to live, eat and shop, but will also provide the local economy with a projected number of 100 jobs sustained through the retail space, in addition to the 600 plus construction jobs currently in place. In addition to the jobs, the property taxes will also contribute an economic boost—with property dues amounting to half a million dollars for the next 10 years, with the numbers increasing to more than a million per year afterwards.
Andrew Rothefeder, project manager for Studer Properties, said the new project completion date is slated for April 2018. The apartments will be delivered in phases, with the first group of apartments ready for residents by December. “We will have people living in the building by the end of the year,” Rothfeder said. “There is still apartment availability. While we have a lot of people on the waiting list, we understand that timing is important to them and know they might not be able to wait until next spring.” The approaching completion of Southtowne will mark a milestone in the recent large-scale residential development downtown and set the tone for other projects looking to gauge Southtowne’s succuess. nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 25
HAWKSHAW PROPERTY After remaining vacant for almost 30 years, the Hawkshaw property is poised for a sprawling transformation. The 2.2-acre parcel of city-owned land sits downtown, just north of Main Street and across the street from the Aragon Court neighborhood. Bob Montgomery, a local developer, has proposed a $35 million plan for the property that includes a multi-story, mixed-used commercial and residential development offering 39 condominiums and 6,500 square feet of office space, which would be anchored by Montgomery’s Wine and Craft Beer. “We’re working with the city on a contract now,” Montgomery said. “The city council has to approve the contract before we can move on to the next step. My attorney has been working with the city attorney and it should go before the city council in November—we’re definitely making progress.” Montgomery said the plan is to close on the property wihin 90 days of receiving city council approval, and then begin construction within a year.
ESCAMBIA COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT Jim Reeves, local developer, attorney and owner of Two Hundred Garden West Inc., has purchased the Escambia County School District’s former headquarters at 213 W. Garden St. Quint Studer, titan of downtown development, is a 20 percent owner of Two Hundred Garden West Inc. and will also be involved with the property. Before any demolition or construction can begin, the 4.9-acre site must be cleared to build on by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which stated the land requires remediation from the pollution of a former gas station at the site. Reeves said they are waiting to move forward after the proper documentation and approval from the FDEP and that possibly residential or mixed-use property could be in the works for the site. “Presently, my plans are to almost totally duplicate Quint Studer’s plans at the old Pensacola News Journal site,” Reeves said. Pending approval from the FDEP, demolition of the building is planned for mid 2018.
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ONE PALAFOX PLACE One of the most monumental re-developments in downtown Pensacola is now up and running. One Palafox Place, also referred to as the Blount/Brent Building, has had several shops open since August, inclding Grey Boutique and Wilfrid’s Fine Goods and Barbershop. Several additional shops, including a bakery, restaurant and a walkable breezeway along the first floor are expected to be completed by winter or early spring.
THE WARFIELD A three-story mixed-use building will soon adorn the corner of South Alcaniz Street in the tree-lined historic Seville Square District. In addition to restaurants, retail and office space, the building will also offer eight two-bedroom apartments for sale. The name of the development pays homage to the Warfield Grocery store, which was once located in a building that still remains on the site. The historic building will be incorporated into the proposed development and maintained along with the new construction. The condos will be roughly 1,349- 1,395 sq.ft., and sale prices will range between $470,000–$544,000. All retails spaces have been leased and are likely to include a boutique and new local restaurant. Pending approval from the city’s Architectural Review Board in late October, the project will move forward with construction.
GALVEZTOWN The plot of land that once housed the former YMCA building on the corner of N. Palafox and E. Belmont Streets will soon be filled with nine, single-family residential homes, a possible large restaurant and several office spaces. Local real estate firm Gunther Properties is planning to sell the residential lots between $195,000 and $210,00, with homes costing an additional construction price depending on the buyer’s choice of home. A 7,000-square-foot building sits along the property’s northern side, which developers expect to lease as a restaurant space.
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COMMERCIAL SUNTRUST BUILDING
he SunTrust building is the latest proposed downtown development from innovator and community leader Quint Studer. Studer Community Institute revealed renderings for a proposed $6.5 million upgrade to SunTrust Tower building, located at 220 W. Garden Street. The renderings showcased a lecture auditorium on the first floor, small offices for networking, and large outside plaza with greenery, fountains and space for outdoor events. A rendering of the east facing side of the building also depicted a large screen facing a small outdoor seating area. Studer himself likened the upgrades to having a convention center without a hotel attached to it. “We wanted to create a place people could walk to from downtown, a place to gather and exchange thoughts, network or attend events,” he said. The ninth floor of the building will offer a sweeping view of the downtown area through a visitor observation room that will remain open to the public.
28 | Business Climate | nwflbusinessclimate.com
Studer Properties Manager Andrew Rothfeder said the company is in the design and concept process and is eagerly seeking community input on the building’s upgrades. “We really want to bring in local thought leaders to figure out what we should do with this building,” Rothfeder said. “We know we want the ground floor to become a center for community solutions, ideas, and problem solving, so it’s pretty phenomenal to have a community conversation about this space and then incorporating those ideas into the planning process.” The building is currently 65 percent full with tenants, and Rothfeder notes one of the first objectives is to do things that make the experience better for everyone already in the building. “Starting in November, we’re going to begin making infrastructure improvements,” Rothfeder said. “It’s an iconic building for downtown Pensacola—it needs some TLC—and to really be brought into 2017. It’s all part of our purpose to improve the quality of life here.“
STUDER OFFICE BUILDING Not far from the new YMCA and the Studer-backed Southtowne apartments will sit yet another Studer-financed project—a Class A office space. The building will consist of four floors—Clark Pardington will occupy the top two floors, the second floor will be leasable office spaces, and the first floor will consist of restaurant and retail spaces. Studer Properties manager Andrew Rothfeder said they’re currently working with tenants now to occupy most of second floor, and have two commercial restaurant/retail spaces available to lease on the ground floor.
ALOFT HOTEL In January, hotel developer Mitesh Patel confirmed he would develop two new modern hotels downtown on a five-acre site on 9th Avenue across from the Aragon Court neighborhood. The two hotels would consist of an Aloft hotel, which is designed to create an urban, hip social experience; and the other, an Element hotel, that boasts an environmentally friendly experience, complete with energy-efficient lighting and recycled material flooring. While rumors have circulated that only one hotel will now occupy the allotted space, no immediate plans for construction have been approved. Starwood Hotels, parent company of the Aloft and Element brand hotels, did not return multiple calls made in an attempt to receive clarifying information regarding this development.
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Holiday inn EXPRESS Out of town guests, people looking to stay-cation, or those returning to their hometown for the holidays will have another downtown option this year with the completion of a five-story Holiday Inn Express at the Jefferson and Main Streets intersection. The building utilizes several classic design elements, including a rustic brick exterior, and was designed to look like a renovated warehouse. The concept and execution received praise from the Architectural Review Board for its timeless and relevant design. The 100-room building will have easy street access via a raised terrace onto Jefferson street and offer affordable room rates for those traveling on business in Pensacola or dropping into town around the holidays.
BAYVIEW COMMUNITY CENTER In August, the Pensacola city officials approved the budget and design of a brand new Bayview Park community center in East Hill. The plans, designed by Caldwell Associates Architects, include a new 19,000 sq. ft. community center in the same location as the current center. It will include community meeting rooms, an exercise room, and two event spaces which can accommodate up to 120 people each, as well as a catering kitchen, making it a new ideal location for a wedding or large gathering. There will also be an additional 5,000 sq. ft. outbuilding for storing kayaks, paddleboards and row boats. The entire project is expected to cost $8.2 million, with construction beginning in the spring of 2018.
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By Tanner Yea
Sailing Out of the Past W
hen Pensacola was founded in 1559, it served as a thriving naval port as the colony of Florida was developed. Schooners, brigs and barques used to fill the harbors of Pensacola Bay, but these ‘tall ships’ appeared less and less as our technology progressed. However, the harbor will be full of cloth sails once again as Tall Ships Challenge Gulf Coast lands at Pensacola in April of 2018. Taking place from April 12-16, 2018, Tall Ships Challenge Gulf Coast 2018 is part of the Tall Ships Challenge series—a series of races and port festivals held every year to honor America’s long maritime history. Normally taking place on the Great Lakes, Atlantic and Pacific, this will be the first time the event will take place along the Gulf Coast.
Photos: Courtesy of Tall Ships America.
“We are excited to expand the Tall Ships Challenge and its adjoining festivals and events to the Gulf Coast for the very first time,” Tall Ships Challenge Manager Erin Short said. “Pensacola has a rich history and bringing the tall ships here makes sense. The fleet hasn’t been to Pensacola before, so this is a whole new festival for the city and ships to get excited about.”
nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 33
Tall ships generally refer to any large, traditionally-rigged sailing vessel. These include sloops, ketches, yawls, schooners, barques, brigs and brigantines. The term itself dates back to the 19th century, first written by author and mariner Joseph Conrad. Tall Ships America, the organization behind the event, has roughly 120 different Tall Ships as registered vessels in their fleets. Pensacola has a long naval relationship, perhaps most famously with the wreckage of six of Tristan De Luna’s ships still present at the bottom of Pensacola Bay. In the 1930s, the port saw famous ships like the USS Constitution, and has received several visits from the ship Juan Sebastian de Elcano, a training ship for the Spanish Royal Navy. “There will be six to seven tall ships, which you’ll be able to take day tours of, and nighttime and VIP events will also be held on board the vessels,” said Curt Morse, executive director of the Downtown Improvement Board. The flagship of this fleet will be the Elissa, which stands over 260’ feet tall and was first launched in 1877. The ships will initially launch from Galveston, Texas, and make their way to Pensacola, New Orleans and finally St. Petersburg. Tall Ships America was originally founded in 1973 as a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching youth education through character building and leadership programs aboard their tall ships. Short said the Tall Ships events provide an opportunity for people to go on the ships, speak with their crews, and actually touch history. Visit Pensacola, the primary sponsors of the event, expect to attract 20,000 to 30,000 attendees from both Pensacola and the surrounding areas. Over the 15 years the Tall Ships Challenge series has taken place, it is estimated to have brought a combined $1.9 billion in economic impact to its host areas. “These festivals are a way to bring people downtown, showcase your waterfront to the visiting public and engage your community,” said Short. Tall Ships Challenge Gulf Coast 2018 will be held from April12–16, 2018 at the Port of Pensacola. Ticket prices have yet to be announced. For more information about Tall Ships America and past Tall Ships Challenge events, visit sailtraining.org.
34 | Business Climate | nwflbusinessclimate.com
“These festivals are a way to bring people downtown, showcase your waterfront to the visiting public and engage your community.”
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An Exclusive Interview with Quint Studer
uint Studer came to Pensacola in 1995 as an established voice in the world of health care. He accepted a job with Baptist Hospital as hospital administrator and by 2000, he’d started a consulting firm called Studer Group, along with his wife Rishy and one single employee. Many Penascolians came to know Quint through his work at Studer Group and the company’s expansion from Gulf Breeze into downtown Pensacola, while many more are familiar with him as a man about town—a celebrated public speaker, author, co-owner of the Blue Wahoos, chair of Sacred Heart Health Systems Inc., or simply the man who kickstarted the development of downtown Pensacola with no signs of slowing down. Quint gave an exclusive interview to Business Climate about the rise of his career, his work in health care and where he imagines Pensacola in 10 years. 36 | Business Climate | nwflbusinessclimate.com
By Hana Frenette Above: Photo by Guy Stevens. All other photos: Courtesy of Ron Stallcup at Studer Community Instititute.
BC: You studied at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and earned master’s degree in special education. Why did you initially choose that field of study? What kind of work did you do once you graduated? QS: In high school, I played soccer, and my coach, Coach King, was also a teacher for other classes. I liked this coach a lot and he would let me my leave study hall in order to help out as a student aid for his special education class, which people referred to back then as a class for the mentally retarded. It was a pretty progressive school system and I was excited to help out in his classroom. I’m not sure how much I helped the kids, but being in the room made me feel better. Later, when I got to college, I was pretty unsure of what I wanted to do. I was an undecided major for my first two years. I didn’t really know a lot of people who had college degrees—I could think of three people, two teachers I’d had and Coach King, so I said I wanted to be a teacher. Once I graduated, I was basically in the school district, working in the classroom with special needs kids for the first few years and then the last four to five years I was mainly helping create programs that would help people with disabilities get into the work place. Once a person with special needs gets a job, it has a really special impact on their life. The Blue Wahoos do a really a great job of providing work for those with special needs. BC: How did you make the switch to the healthcare industry? QS: It was purely accidental. Sometimes what looks like an obstacle becomes an opportunity. In 1982, I was still working in the education system and I had a moment of clarity. I realized my drinking was a real problem. I sought help and ironically, a couple years later, I became very active in the recovery world, which I still am today. At the time, one of the small drug and alcohol treatment facilities I’d attended meetings in was looking for a community relations person to work with treatment centers within the school district—their facilities offered treatments for both adults and children. Part of the job during my three years there, was to meet with human resource directors and discuss what it’s going to be like when a person returns to work or school and so on. I got to know a lot of human resource directors. The head of HR from Mercy Hospital in Janesville, Wisconsin called me and said they were looking to hire a Director of Marketing. I was selected for the job and over the next six to seven years, I became the Senior Vice President of business development, after starting in a marketing position. Life isn’t about straight lines, sometimes
you go up and down, and paths cross and circle back again. When I was at Mercy Hospital in Janesville, a fellow called up to recruit for a position at Holy Cross Hospital—they were looking for a Chief Operating Officer. We were living in Wisconsin, and Rishy said why don’t you go down to Chicago and see what you think about the job. I met with a man named Mark Clement from Holy Cross and we just had great synergy. He offered me the job and Rishy and I left Wisconsin and moved to the south side of Chicago. When I got to Holy Cross, the hospital had no money and was in a tough neighborhood. About 33 percent of all babies born there were cocaine positive. What we figured out how to do there was to make a great place for people to work. Happier employees lead to greater patient satisfaction, which lead to greater success overall for the hospital. BC: Your work with Holy Cross and the success you achieved there lead you to Baptist Hospital in Pensacola. What did you think of that initial first visit to Pensacola and what was your plan for helping Baptist move forward? QS: Baptist Hospital in Pensacola was really trying to improve their patient satisfaction score and they’d read about the work we’d done at Holy Cross in Chicago. In 1995 Baptist had Executives come to Holy cross to benchmark us and then later in the year they had me come down again to give a lecture at the Crowne Plaza to their employees on raising patient satisfaction. By the next year, I returned to Pensacola and became the hospital administrator at Baptist.
There was a culture, shock. We were much more integrated, much more diverse in Chicago. I did not notice racism in Chicago like I did here—it was just a real culture shock. When we got to Pensacola, we started doing the same things we had done in Chicago in order to improve results. BC: When did you found Studer Group and leave your role at Baptist Hospital? QS: I was 48 years old at the time and the idea of leaving a very secure job was pretty scary. I’d been reading “The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America.” The Healthcare Advisory Board had written a book about how to improve patient satisfaction and they picked two hospitals with significant results to do case studies on—Holy Cross in Chicago and Baptist Hospital in Pensacola Baptist. People started to say, gee what do these two hospitals have in common—it’s the same guy who’d been at both. Other hospitals started to ask what they could do, asking if I could come to their hospital, and if I could come speak to their employees. The demands to travel and speak to other hospitals became very high, and I felt I couldn’t help other hospitals and also give 100 percent to Baptist. We started Studer Group in 2000—Rishy, myself and Sheila Martin. The three of us found a tiny 500 square foot office space that was part of the Gulf Breeze Methodist Church and we put our own office furniture in it. That’s why I have such empathy for entrepreneurs—I know what it’s like to write a personal check and not know what’s going to happen down the line. I was so scared at the time— I was scared about leaving nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 37
Community “I thought, you created great culture in hospitals; can you do that in a community? It’s not a solo job. I knew it would be hard, and I became interested in the idea after studying other communities—I thought, maybe we could have a huge impact in Pensacola.”
the good job at Baptist. We had a couple really great clients that helped us in the beginning. One of our clients frontloaded us some money and we were able to move into a larger office in Harbortown in Gulf Breeze, which worked out because Gulf Breeze Methodist Church needed their office space back. We bought suite 6 in Harbortown and I remember thinking we had so much space in that one suite. We’d eventually expand to more than half the suites in Harbortown. BC: Why did you decide to move Studer Group into downtown Pensacola? QS: In 2004, Tom Bonfield, the Pensacola City Manager at the time, came to see me and asked if we would consider moving the Studer Group offices into downtown. The city was looking to have more corporate headquarters in Pensacola, so we continued to talk about moving our offices and eventually decided on building the new offices near Maritime Park. BC: Many Pensacolians first became familiar with you and your work through Studer Group, and then later through your involvement with the community and your public speaking sessions, keynote series, and lectures. What do you enjoy about public speaking? QS: I think it got into teaching special education teenagers. They don’t cut you any slack, they’re not overly impressed, and you’ve got to keep them interested. I know that sort of helped hone my speaking skills. Then in the recovery 38 | Business Climate | nwflbusinessclimate.com
world, through the 12-step programs, you have to share your experiences. That really taught me the power of storytelling, of really relating to people. You have to share your own vulnerability. It’s a little crazy because I’m probably more comfortable on stage than I am in a one on one conversation. The goal was never to be a great speaker, but to make peoples lives better. I just wanted to be the kind of person or speaker that made people want to be a better leader, employee, or doctor. I used to tell people that I’ve heard great motivational speakers, but if I don’t do anything with that material, then what good is the lecture really doing me?
BC: After 16 years, you sold Studer Group to Huron Consulting Group in 2015—was the decision to sell a hard one? How did you determine what would be best for you and the company? QS: In 2012, we took on an investor, JMI, a private equity firm. At that time, we wanted good succession planning. I was around 61 years old and thinking a lot about what’s going to happen in the future with all this investment in downtown Pensacola, which takes a lot of money. I had a real appetite to create a vibrant downtown and was using Studer Group to get funds to keep investing in downtown. JMI made the decision to sell, and I announced I wanted to be full-time community volunteer. Rishy and I have never taken a salary, never charged anything to the businesses, and any profits we’ve ever taken out of the company, we put back into the community. I thought, you created great culture in hospitals; can you do that in a community? It’s not a solo job. I knew it would be hard, and I became interested in the idea after studying other communities— I thought, maybe we could have a huge impact in Pensacola. Shortly after that time, there were several plans and announcements about your development of a large mixed-use building on Jefferson Street known as Southtowne, which would offer over 200 affordable apartments.
BC: When and did you decide to make the jump to development and begin looking at economic/building opportunities in Pensacola? QS:The Maritime office building was the first building of new development for us in Pensacola. We had to sign a letter of intent for this 16 million downtown office building, which was our first big investment. Right around 2007, we bought the Rhodes building on Jefferson and Chase Streets, and then we ended up in Belmont Devilliers, looking at a building that reminded us of Chicago building. We couldn’t even go inside because it was in bad shape—it was Gus’s Record Shop, and we ended up buying that building and revitalized it. Around that time, we got really interested in helping small, particularly minorityowned businesses, project. We found a minority chef, and helped him start a business, Five Sisters Café. The lease was paid in relation to the revenue he made. It’s exiting to us—that was one of our first big rehabilitation projects. That sort of led to the corner of Palafox and Main Streets. We’d studied to a lot of downtown cities and one of the big missing things in downtown Pensacola, even after stadium, was a great intersection. Rishy bought a building on the west corner of Palafox and Main, which had been vacant forever, and put in an olive oil shop, coffee shop. We held the Pensacola Business Challenge and offered startup cash and decreased rent to a winning tenant, which turned out to be Carmen’s Lunch Bar. Thirty two other people participated in the Pensacola Business Challenge—all these people had to come up with business plans who might not have been motivated to make one before. Rishy said, I don’t want my customers looking at old vacant buildings, so we bought the Artisan building across the street from the Bodacious Shops. We bought Deviliers square, tried to put the new YMCA closer to the downtown core, already had the stadium going by then. We tried to get UWF downtown but that didn’t make it through the hoops. Then we bought the old PNJ property, and we ended up planning for more downtown offices there. Then we thought, we can’t just have 10 condominiums downtown, that wont’ bring enough residents downtown. We tried to bring in another building to the area but the rent wasn’t enough for them to get a big return on investment, so we decided we better do it ourselves, and we started planning for Southtowne.
BC: You’ve recently purchased the SunTrust building and are planning to utilize it as a mixed-use facility and office space—why did you choose the SunTrust building for this project? QS: When I visited my youngest son in Chicago, I saw that some universities have put these buildings downtown—places where people can network, think and meet up, talk about challenges or plans for the future. We were going to build something like this next to the Pensacola Opera building—thought we’d have the YMCA for the body, and this building for the brain. We just couldn’t make it work there. Andrew Rothfeder found the SunTrust building and suggested we do it there. What we’re trying to do is create an area that’s walkable within downtown. You can walk to Palafox and Main, then head over to Jefferson and Indetendica, which is a great corner, go back up Palafox to the new Blount building, walk down Garden Street to EverMan. Now, if you want, you’ll be able to walk across the street to the SunTrust Building. We want to make it a vibrant place with a nice plaza where you can have festivals, pop up shops or other events. We’re going to make the 9th floor an observatory floor that’s open to the public. BC: What are your plans with the school district building on Garden Street? QS: Being only a 20 percent owner in school district property and with the land just being closed on, there are no immediate plans that I am aware of. Personally, I still feel we need more residential options for people and would love to see housing of some sort for that land use. BC: Did you ever imagine you’d become such a big part of the change, growth and development of the city? QS: No—heck no. I never thought about any of this. When I became a department manager, I thought—this is unbelievable. I never thought I’d be a director or the president of a hospital. I was trilled with that. If you just live a good life, everything else is fringe benefits. I tell people, we still don’t consider ourselves land developers, we want to be community developers. BC: The Bodacious Brew Thru has a special early learning playground–tell me about the decision to include this on the property in a downtown location and if you have any plans for more of these special play areas. QS: With the focus of the Studer Community Institute on early brain development, we feel that space could be a good example of taking an outdoor space and creating a learning environment. We have identified 19 areas where early learning could be built into the neighborhoods.
Studer’s Southtowne mixed-use development is currently under construction. BC: As citizens and community members of Pensacola, what do you think each one of us can do to contribute to the overall quality and satisfaction of life here? QS: Don’t be complacent. Even though we’ve made a lot of progress, and my gosh we’ve come a long way, we still have quite a ways to go. I think we need a code of ethics for our elected city officials, I cant imagine that our city wouldn’t want one. We need to be strong advocates for our community. When I look back on the loss on the Center for Entrepreneurs, I think if the community would have gotten a little more riled up, we probably would have gotten it. We need to focus on education. I think about the fact that one third of our children going into kindergarten aren’t prepared—this leads to a higher drop out rates. Children that drop out have a greater likelihood of ending up in jail. We can’t just look at it from the perspective of “our kid does ok, it’s ok.” We have to look at it like every child is our child, and really advocate for good safety and good education. BC: Where do you think Pensacola’s economic future is headed? QS: There’s going to be $1.5 billion coming into the community from Triumph (a nonprofit in charge of disbursing the money for economic development projects in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla counties.) We need to make smart decisions because we don’t want people in 1015 years thinking, what were they doing? As a community, we have to beef up our awareness. We have to do a better job of helping educate ourselves and knowing what’s out there. We need to be as educated as we can on topics relating to our community. What I think makes Pensacola such a good story, and what’s really remarkable is that most of this development has been done
entirely will private dollars. The government has a lot of handcuffs—they can only do so much. The answer to those restrictions comes locally. We all need to be a little more engaged, and not declare victory just yet. We still need to raise wages, get better jobs, get more kids graduating through the school system, and have better safety in our city. It’s nice to feel good about the wins, but we’ve got to keep moving forward with the next project. An engaged community is the key to building a vibrant community—one neighborhood at a time. BC: What do you see Pensacola becoming in the next 10 years? QS: It all depends on decisions being made. We can no longer spend tax payer (public dollars) on infrastructure hoping private investment comes. We already have roads, pipes, and power lines in many neighborhoods. The focus must be on these areas where the public dollars have already been spent. We must also stop borrowing on future tax dollars to pay for stuff today. We are putting our children and grandchildren in a terrible spot. If we do it right, with a number of small steps in filling up vacant spaces were infrastructure already exists, here is where we will be: Ninety percent of children will enter kindergarten ready. It won’t just be a 10-year impact; it will be a huge 20 year impact. Pensacola will be the national benchmark as a haven for small businesses. People from all over will travel to Pensacola to learn how to build children’s brains and how to create the right environment for businesses to start and grow. We will have the most educated citizens in the world on what makes a smart decision and what not to do within a community, and CivicCon will be copied all over the country.
nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 39
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Pensacola Technology Campus’
Future Remains Open
By Tanner Yea
Placed on South 9th Avenue and East Salamanca Street, the Pensacola Technology Campus has always had potential as a center of growth for Pensacola’s burgeoning tech industry. Since its initial zoning in 2011 it has not had any tenants, but the future of the property remains open and optimistic. “The concept of the park is still the same. At the end of the day, we want to have innovation and tech-based companies and activities going on in the park,” said Scott Luth, CEO of FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance—the owners of the property. The campus itself takes up a total of nine acres and was created via a $2 million grant from the United States Economic Development Administration. The location is set to accommodate multiple companies and can support up to 1.6 million square feet of Class A office space. The campus is meant to attract innovation-based businesses, and one of those businesses is Space Florida. Space Florida was established in 2006 to further aerospace economic development within the state, including sponsoring NASA facilities, research and development of a commercial spaceport and working with the International Space Station. The initial concepts for Space Florida include a four-story, 70,000 square foot building; a 500-space, five-story parking garage; and potentially a second garage and subsequent offices. This project is estimated to cost around $9 million and provide workspace for up to 300 employees.
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Space Florida is in talks with FloridaWest about developing at the campus, but Luth said the partners they are bringing to the table are not the same as they were a year ago, and that ‘dynamics had changed slightly.’ According to meeting minutes from August 15 for the Pensacola-Escambia Promotion & Development Commission, Space Florida has requested a 60-day extension on their lease agreement—a hopeful sign. A second group that has expressed interest in the Technology Campus is UWF, who has plans to add classroom and research space to downtown by the 2018 fall semester. UWF already has facilities at the SunTrust Tower, Belmont-DeVilliers and UWF Historic Trust, but they are looking to expand to new properties as part of their Innovation Network initiative—the Technology Campus being one potential location. “At this time, we are at the beginning stages of considering different properties and have made no concrete decisions,” said Megan Gonzalez, Executive Director or University Marketing and Communications for the university. “There are several factors involved in a decision of this nature, including but not limited to Board of Trustee and Board of Governors policies and regulations.”
“There is no debt on it, no carrying cost and it’s publically owned. It’s just currently a green space. We want to bring in new developers and wait until it’s a unique project,” — Luth
Luth has said no formal talks have happened with UWF outside of them expressing potential interest, which leaves the Technology Campus open for other investors. Luth said that he is not worried about the space being empty and is willing to wait. “There is no debt on it, no carrying cost and it’s publically owned. It’s just currently a green space. We want to bring in new developers and wait until it’s a unique project,” said Luth. “This isn’t just a land use project, it’s a catalyst economic development project. We’re working to try and find the right match and the right project for the community.” For more information on the Pensacola Technology Campus and the FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance, visit floridawesteda.com.
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Keep Our Friends Safe
Call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646) savethemanatee.org Photo © David Schrichte
By Haley Weaver
Jefferson Street Goes Green If you’ve driven downtown in the past few months, you might have noticed the construction on the corner of Jefferson and Palafox Streets.
A new parking garage has been constructed to accommodate patrons of the Southtowne mixeduse apartment complex currently under construction and the new YMCA, but otherwise Jefferson remains fairly open for parking and foot traffic. The Downtown Improvement Board (DIB) has been in the process of creating a green streetscape for Jefferson Street, in order to make the area more aesthetically pleasing for tourists and locals alike. The DIB plans to beautify the walkable street while also making better use of the sidewalk space. Curt Morse, Executive Director of the DIB said making additions to Jefferson Street are instrumental in improving the walkability of
downtown Pensacola. In the past decade, improvements made to Palafox Street, like the Palafox Market, local art displays, and eyecatching storefronts have made the street the heart of the downtown area, and developments made to Jefferson Street will further expand the area’s appeal. “We believe that Jefferson Street, by default, will become the ‘welcome mat’ to Palafox and the rest of our downtown core for those 300+ new residents moving into Southtowne,” said Morse. “We want the look and feel of the entire street to be congruent to the streetscape that surrounds the new construction.” A streetscape refers to the design quality of the street and its visual effect, recognizing the street as a
public meeting place for various activities. A greenway is a stretch of undeveloped land in an urban area, repurposed for recreational use or environmental protection. This project will employ elements of both. With the parking garage finished, the DIB now plans to line the road with aesthetically-designed sidewalks, street trees, and other vegetation and plant life. This project was made possible with support from the Pensacola city council and funding from the Community Redevelopment Agency, a tax-funded organization. Through the Request for Quotation process, the DIB selected Jerry Pate Design to help design a master plan for the downtown area. Jerry Pate’s previous projects include several
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Streetscape local golf courses, as well as Maritime Place, Rotary Centennial Playground, and the Bear Levin Studer Family YMCA of Northwest Florida. According to the renderings, the conceptual list of plants chosen includes, but is not limited to: Indian Hawthorne “Snow White,” Morning Light Eulalia Grass, Hot Rod Switch Grass, Wheeler’s Dwarf Pittosporum, Autumn Coral Azalea, Breeze Grass, Blue Pacific Juniper, Icy Drift Rose, Bloodgood Japanese Maple, Variegated Flax Lily, and Purple Pixie Loropetalum. The maintenance to the area will be minimal, which was the intention when choosing the plants mentioned above; each is either a native plant or adapts well to the climate, and requires little upkeep. The plants will need irrigation upon
establishment and during drought periods, but Pensacola typically experiences an abundance of rain, according to Jerry Pate Designs representative Steve Dana. One of the main benefits of this addition is its effect on the water system, said Dana. “The adjustments made on the pipes will help with filtering the water out to the bay,” she said. “The water pipes have a tendency to be overloaded, and this improvement will enhance the quality of the water as well.” In larger cities like Detroit and San Francisco, streetscapes have proven to be a useful tool in generating crowds and business in a previously less popular area. Detroit employed the use of a plant and seating-filled esplanade, or a pedestrianfriendly area between roads and buildings, to make the downtown area more appealing
and public transportation more accessible. San Francisco passed legislation that determined how streets served as a public space in order to enhance pedestrian safety and accessibility. As of now, there is no released completion date for the proposed streetscape. Morse expressed that there are many variables under consideration. “We are working with the landscape architects to determine what the scope of the project should include, and how to maximize the efforts of the contractors so that both sides of the streets could be renovated at the same time,” he said. However, he ensured the Jefferson Streetscape Project, along with the new improved landscape around the Jefferson Street Garage, are their two highest priority projects.
The maintenance to the area will be minimal, which was the intention in choosing the plants mentioned above; each is either a native plant or adapts well to the climate, and requires little upkeep. The plants will need irrigation upon establishment and during drought periods, as Pensacola typically experiences an abundance of rain, according to Jerry Pate Designs representative Steve Dana.”
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Curiouser and Curiouser! Written By Heidi Travis Photos by Guy Stevens and Hana Frenette
ensacola is a fast growing, ever-evolving city. Over the past several years, Pensacola has been caught in the current of a tremendous forward momentum due to expansion and downtown in particular is seeing the fruits of this progress more and more each day.
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But one of the things that makes Pensacola so great has always been its rich history and unique flavor. Even as as the city matures, some things will never change—and that’s how we like it! You see, no matter what changes may come, Pensacola will always be both a central hub for our nation’s history and a city with small-town charm and
quirky charisma. Even as Pensacola continues to grow, at its core will be those great little sights and attractions that make you stop and go, “Hmm, that’s cool.” So why not take a moment to do just that? Here are just a few local curiosities we think are worth checking out:
Pensacola Pelican Statues They are everywhere. From the airport, to the public library, to streets of downtown these robust, handsome devils perch for all to admire their colorful plumage. Each pelican is sponsored by a local business, organization, or individual and is designed as fun tributes to all things that make Pensacola great. With a paint job entirely unique to each statue, many different artists took to the task of bringing these birds to life in a variety of different aesthetics, often taking creative liberties with each member of the flock. This project, originally organized by the Pensacola News Journal in 2004, began with just 21 pelicans but has since grown to 41. While many of the pelicans have flown back to their sponsors’ nests, many of them still remain perched in their original locations and continue to intrigue locals and visitors alike.
Seville Square Sculptures When Hurricane Ivan struck in 2004, it ravaged portions of Pensacola rendering them virtually uninhabitable. The damage was near catastrophic and along with the damage to homes and businesses, many of the city’s landmarks bore the scars of Ivan’s onslaught. Among the casualties was the huge cedar that stood on the corner of Palafox and Garden Streets which was decorated yearly for the Christmas season. The tree was so damaged that it had to be cut down. However, the old cedar found new life in the hands of the skilled sculptors Mario Parra and Elizabeth Thompson. The pair, who live in Escazu, one of Pensacola’s sister cities in Costa Rica, used the wood from the trunk of the fallen tree to create the elegant statues seen in Seville Square today. The quaint figures bring a rustic charm to Seville Square while dutifully supporting the branches of the large oaks throughout the park. It’s almost as if the old cedar lives on, continuing to grace Pensacola residents with its strength and timeless beauty.
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Rough Riders In 1898 an alliance of military service members, miners, Native Americans and cowboys rode out on horses while carrying shotguns, making their way Tampa. From Tampa, they would sail to Cuba and square off against the Spanish in what has come to be known as the Spanish-American War. The United States would go on to have their victory. These men, led by Theodore Roosevelt himself, were the famous Rough Riders and it turns out that they are a little piece of Pensacola history as well. On June 1, 1898 the Rough Riders rode through Pensacola on their way to Tampa. They stopped for water and a quick rest before blazing a trail forward to victory. The plaque on East Wright and Tarragona Streets marks this historic appearance.
Crystal Ice House If you are looking for a little reprieve from the sweltering Florida heat, then the Crystal Ice House is the palace of your dreams. This quaint little Pensacola gem located on the corner of North Davis Highway and East Jordan Street has been catching local’s eyes since 1932. Back in the days when ice was more of a luxury item, residents could take a trip to this oh-so-convenient drivethru location and stock up on this precious commodity. This little outpost stood out as much then as it does now, with its glittering icicles and snow-covered peaks. You just couldn’t miss it. Shopping for ice was made even easier by their very own order code, which consisted of a series of simple hand signals illustrated on a plaque affixed to the building. For example, to let the attendant know you wanted 50 pounds of ice, you would hold up two fingers; for 100 pounds you’d hold up one, for 20 pounds you’d hold up three, and so on. Though it’s no longer in use, the Crystal Ice House is officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered one of the “Seven Wonders of Pensacola.”
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Miniature House on Main Street If you’ve ever cruised through downtown Pensacola, no doubt you’ve caught sight of the miniature house that sits at the corner of Spring and Main Streets and wondered, Why is that there and what on earth is it for? Standing 12 feet high and 19 feet long, this doll house sized home was built in 1955 to cover a gas regulator station. It is an exact replica of the Panton-Leslie Trading Post, one of the first and most successful business hubs in West Florida, established by a Scottish businessman named William Panton in 1772. While the gas pipes and fittings are long gone, the house holds its place as a small part of local history.
Bike Racks As downtown Pensacola has begun to blossom with new life, more and more people are ditching the cars and taking to the street by foot or by bike. Though cycling has always been a favored Pensacola pastime, finding a safe place to park your bike while popping into a café for lunch or meeting friends for coffee was a chore and a half. In 2014 that all changed. Suddenly, modern bike sculptures serving as bike racks appeared on street corners downtown. In a variety of lively, playful colors, these 20 bike racks were designed not only with functionality in mind but also as a way to get the community excited about biking. Mayor Ashton Hayward saw this as just another way to make Pensacola a “more walkable, bikeable, livable city.”
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Jefferson Street Mural Though relatively new to town, this eye catching mural is quickly becoming a local favorite and promises to be a staple among landmark tours in the future. Covering 250 feet total, the mural adorning the Jefferson Street Parking Garage has garnered a lot of attention and interest since its fledgling stages last year. In celebration of the 2016 Foo Foo Festival, artists Ashton Howard and Evan Levin launched the project in honor of the town they hold so dear—and what better way to show their affection than through this eye-popping, artistic labor of love. The mural features integral figures to Pensacola’s history and heritage past and present such as Tristan De Luna, Fort Pickens, the Spanish national flag and the Blue Angels.
Pensacola Post Card Mural Brew Ha Ha hasn’t even opened their doors yet and already has the public abuzz with anticipation. In just 11 days, Niceville resident and local artist, Patti Gillespie transformed the wall on the side of Brew Ha Ha’s into a work of art, creating an elaborate mural in celebration of Pensacola. The mural, designed as a replica of a vintage 1940s–50s postcard, is a clever compilation of other famous Pensacola postcards fitted into each letter of the word “Pensacola” and features various images of important local landmarks. It is approximately 21 by 14 feet tall and has been turning heads since its installation.
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DeVilliers Mural Pensacola is a city rich in history and we celebrate its heritage with events like the Fiesta of Five Flags. However, often overlooked is Pensacola’s African American history—not so on “The Blocks.” Encompassing a cluster of buildings at the intersection of Belmont and DeVilliers streets, The Blocks have always been home to a thriving business and art community. During the times of segregation and Jim Crow, African American-owned trade and entertainment businesses comprised a self-contained hub of industry in The Blocks. Highly successful clubs like Abe’s 506 Club featured artists like B.B. King, Fats Domino, and Aretha Franklin and thrived for many years. Today, we see tribute to the contributions of African Americans here in Pensacola in the form of local artist Carter J. Gaston’s mural on the Belmont-DeVilliers building. Gaston’s mural features influential figures such as General Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., the first African American fourstar general and F.E. Washington, and the publisher of The Colored Citizen. Their history lives on in brilliant color.
First City Arts Center Mural You can’t miss it. The large gold eyes peer out, the bone white face frozen in a gleeful, permanent smile as bright festive colors and shapes swirl and swim around the unearthly portrait. The mural covers the entirety of the First City Arts Center on North Guillemard Street. According to Suzanne Findeisen media correspondent, the mural was funded by Foo Foo Fest, 2016 and was created by a member of Art Beyond Walls, a group that regularly meets at First City Art Center. “Six artists created the skull art on the East outer wall of First City Art Center, which was done in conjunction with the Gonzalez Street Memory Wall,” Findeisen said. The First City Arts Center is a hub for “hands on learning” and artistic expression so it only makes sense that the creativity fostered there spills beyond its walls making the world its canvas.
So swing by some of these fun locations, take a bike ride downtown, find all the pelicans, and feast your eyes on some of the lesser known but no less loved curiosities Pensacola has to offer. nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 53
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