The Northwest Florida Chapter of NAIOP, a commercial real estate development association, sent a strongly worded “white paper” to city and county officials stating the Escambia County Commission would “squander tens of millions of tax dollars” if it pursues rebuilding the Central Booking and Detention facility at its old location.
At the Nov. 12 Commission meeting, the Board voted 4-1 to do just that over the objection of Commissioner Grover Robinson and the consultant’s recommendation. Robinson, the consultant, and now NAIOP believe the EPA Superfund site is the best choice.
The group discounted concerns that about health risks. They wrote, “Approximately $35 million has already been invested by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remediate the environmental damage and it is not currently on the tax rolls. The EPA insists that the property is safe, clean, and ready for use.”
NAIOP also wrote that the old CBD site is prone to flooding, which, in their opinion, puts any funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at risk.
“FEMA has indicated that the new facility needs to be built on a site outside of the 500-year flood plain. Having FEMA’s buy‐in is essential to the project. Rebuilding on the existing site, which is in a low‐lying area that has proven to be prone to damaging floods, will without a doubt jeopardize this funding from FEMA.”
The group said rebuilding on the old site would be more costly: “…the site will require a high‐rise facility design, structured parking garages, and underground storm water retention which would add an estimated 20% premium to the construction costs.”
NAOIP wrote, “Do not let the improper jail site selection be a decision long regretted by the citizens of Escambia County.”