HT Makes Second Offer on ECUA Property

The Emerald Coast Utilities Authority has received a second offer from HT Land Co. to purchase a 19-acre parcel of property in downtown Pensacola.

“I just got the offer a couple of hours ago,” ECUA Executive Director Steve Sorrell said this morning.

Last month, the ECUA board rejected—on a 3-2 vote—the company’s initial offer of $7.6 million. The second offer is also $7.6 million, but this time includes a non-refundable escrow fee.

Sorrell explained that the second offer—which also involves the buyer covering associated taxes and brokerage fees—includes a $150,000 escrow fee, with $50,000 of that being non-refundable.

“What that means is the guy clearly has intentions of developing the property,” Sorrell said, adding that there is also a condition that will require HT to gain the approval of the ECUA board prior to reselling the property. “Essentially, what that means is he can’t flip it.”

Following the ECUA board’s initial rejection of HT’s advances, members of the Pensacola City Council expressed concern about what development might occur on the property and if it would conform to the city’s vision for the downtown area. Lisa Sharp, a broker with Coldwell Banker Commercial reality company and local representative for the Houston, Texas-based HT, told council at that time that the company intended on a mixed-use development and did not have any issues with design standards city officials may impose on the area.

Sorrell said today that he has seen an artist’s rendition of HT’s development plans. He described a mix of retail and residential, a hotel and a “decorative retention pond.”

“It’s actually a beautiful proposal,” the ECUA director said.

Sorrell—who noted he has also spoken with Mayor Ashton Hayward, as well as the city’s planning department, about the company’s development plans—said he still expected a split vote from his board, but thought they may now be more receptive to the sale due to the non-refundable escrow dollars.

HT is due to formally present its offer to the ECUA during the board’s meeting Thursday. The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m., at the ECUA’s Ellyson Industrial Park offices, located at 9255 Sturdevant St.