For Sale: Pensacola Civic Center

Escambia County commissioners are looking to unload the Pensacola Civic Center. But  Commission Chairman Wilson Robertson isn’t getting his hopes up.

“Personally, I don’t think we’re gonna get a sale-offer for $10 million,” Robertson said.
Recently, Commissioner Gene Valentino had a realtor contact him with a interest in the civic center. They wouldn’t name their client.

The facility has long been a financial drain on the county—sucking up $2 million in tourism funds each year—and no-go attempts have been made to sell before. During their meeting Thursday, commissioners eyed putting out a Request for Letters of Interest, with a stipulation that the unnamed potential buyer put down a $500,000. non-refundable deposit.

George Hawthorne, president of the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce had another idea. He requested the commissioners consider partnering with a collective of groups in turning the facility into a convention center. He urged the board to make room for both a “plan A and plan B.”

Commissioner Kevin White said the county had no interest in retaining ownership in the facility.

“It’s never going to be a viable project to make money,” White said.

The commission agreed to accept letters of interest, with deposits, on the civic center, and also to take a look at Hawthorne’s proposal. White, who resisted the notion of maintaining stakes in the civic center, didn’t sound enthused.

“I’m hoping somebody buys it because one in the hand is better than three in the bush,” he told Robertson and Commissioner Marie Young—commissioners Valentino and Grover Robertson were absent.

Interested parties must have their letters to the county Jan. 27. In February, county officials must address the contract with the center’s current management company.