543 Thames Street
Newport, RI 02840



Commercial Project Involves 98 Eglin Acres
July 7, 2008


Key players in a deal that would bring 1.1 million square feet of research, office, hotel and restaurant space to Air Force land say they hope to break ground by the end of this year.

"I think we've made a lot of progress since negotiations were restarted in April," said Chris Bicho of Eglin Properties LLC. "The site plan has not been approved by (Okaloosa) County, but it has generated a very positive response among the stakeholders. We hope to have a lease signed by the fall of '08."

As lease negotiations near the home stretch, Coldwell Banker Commercial United Realtors in Destin has been chosen to handle marketing and leasing on what would become the Emerald Coast Technology and Research Center.

The project involves 98 acres of Eglin Air Force Base land adjacent to the Univer-sity of Florida's Research and Engineering Education Facility on Lewis Turner Boulevard.

If signed, the lease would be a 50-year "enhanced use" deal involving Eglin Properties LLC and the Air Force. Eglin Properties consists of DCK Worldwide from Pitts-burgh and Hunt Development Group from Texas.

Their goal is to build and lease 1.1 million square feet of what is called Class A space. The cost, including the lease, is estimated at $250 million. Those involved estimate 10 years for it all to be built.

"The big cost for the developer is not building the buildings; it's the land," said David Goetsch of Okaloosa-Walton College. "And that's why the long-term lease from Eglin is so essential. The project is a beautiful design and it's smart."

Greg Clauson leads the marketing and leasing effort for Coldwell Banker.

"The effects of this project will stimulate the local job market," Clauson said in an e-mail. "And it will foster cooperation between the base and the private sector and introduce valuable federal property in the local economy."

Phase One involves four retail or restaurant sites.
"More than likely they would all be national tenants," Clauson said.

The first office space would involve 12,000 square feet in a two-story building. Clauson said he'd like to see financial offices on the first floor and general office space on the second.

Then there's a suites hotel with 115 rooms and an adjoin-ing conference center.

"That would be another national flag," Clauson said.
The public could use all of the first phase area.

"I've been working on this concept for about 15 years," Goetsch said. "It's going to put us on the map with people who don't know we're here yet. It's big-time big for us."

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