Batter Up at Maritime Park

cmpa 1There’s another prospect standing in the batter’s box at the Community Maritime Park. Realtor Justin Beck made a pitch to the Community Maritime Park Associates’ Audit and Operations Committee today to build a three-story, mixed-use building on the park’s parcel 1.

“We’re very serious about doing a project,” Beck told the committee members. “We’re motivated, we’re motivated to move our building here and very excited about the possibility of doing it.”

Beck Property Company would be located on the second floor of the 18,000-square foot proposal. The first floor would be dedicated to retail space, while the top floor would be divided into three or four residential units. The development would provide its own parking—an estimated 37 spaces—on site.

The proposal generally received a warm reception from the CMPA committee.

“First off, thanks,” said committee member Mark Taylor. “This is great. It’s huge, I’m pumped and look forward to supporting it.”

Committee member Fred Gunther did have some concerns about the proposed lease fee—$20 per square foot, as opposed to the appraised $27—and the fact that a portion of the parcel had been carved out of the deal, leaving access to the waterfront available.

“I have a problem with both of those,” Gunther said, clarifying that he “obviously excited” about the project in concept.

Beck noted that the lower per-square foot number is based on the likelihood that the development will require site work—“we know the soil is suspect here on this site and we know we are going to have to put pylons in”—and said that the proposed rates were the same as Quint Studer’s office complex, the only other project approved for the park.cmpa 2

“Your percentages for CAM, your percentages for rent are exactly the same,” he said.

Justin Beck’s father, Greg Beck, pointed out that the Studer development does not provide its own parking.

“We’re not 50 percent off,” the senior Beck said. “If anything, we’re offering more.”

Jim Reeves, committee member and CMPA treasurer, suggested that the group informally request—no formal motion could be taken due to a lack of a quorum—that the proposal be considered, and suggested that 75 percent of the lease fees and all of the Common Area Maintenance (CAM) fees be directed to the CMPA, which is broke, instead of the city of Pensacola.

“We need the income and we take responsibility for it,” Reeves said. “And who do we owe the most money to? The city of Pensacola.”

Reeves also said that the CMPA should use Beck’s proposal as a healing moment after the recent prospects of a new waterfront YMCA at the park fell apart amidst procedural issues.

“What I think we need to do is overcome the stigma of what happened with the YMCA,” he said.

Reeves advised against letting the difference between the appraisal of parcel one and the proposal “get in the way of smoothing over the process.” Taylor suggested that the Becks could “bump up” his offer “out of the goodness of their heart.”

“My son has the kind heart,” Greg Beck said.

“I thought we were being kind,” his son said.

Because the CMPA committee did not have a quorum, no formal position could be taken on Beck’s proposal. The group did, however, take a straw vote—Gunther was the lone dissenter, with Reeves, Taylor, John Merting, Pensacola City Councilman Larry B. Johnson and Chad Stacey supporting the proposal.

CMPA Executive Director Ed Spears said he would use Studer’s agreement as a template—“change the name and change the numbers”—and draw up a draft from which to jump into negotiations.

The YMCA deal fell apart, in part, because it was unclear who the organization needed to negotiate a lease with. While the CMPA is designated to negotiate park leases—which then travel to the city council for approval—the Y deal was hatched with the city administration.

“You know, the genesis of this idea is actually from the mayor’s office,” Beck told the CMPA committee today, explaining that Sustainability Administrator Clark Merritt had suggested the company consider moving to the park.