DESTIN, Fla. (WMBB) — Mayor Bobby Wagner joined News 13’s Kimber Collins for a talk about the latest happenings in Destin.
Topics included the Emerald Coast Open taking over the Destin Harbor. A tournament dedicated to eradicating the lionfish population from local waters.
“Lionfish, a whole bunch of lionfish that are hopefully we are going to take out of the water and then onto our dock and then eventually into our restaurants. So we are very excited to have the 5th annual Emerald Coast Open here in Destin. It’s a great partnership with the TDC and Alex Fogg and seeing all these different divers come on out here and help us be a part of the solution which is getting these lionfish out of our waterways,” said Wagner.
Both Wagner and Collins are lionfish hunters. They discussed what it means to host the world’s largest lionfish tournament.
“So we are the luckiest fishing village and I think this is just one more opportunity to take a different approach to fishing. Getting underwater, being immersed in it all, as a diver myself, I love it. It’s easy target practice so even newbies can get involved and you know to just see so many divers from across the world come here and not only help the environmental impact of all this, but just to come together and enjoy what it’s all about and that’s getting out into the natural resources, under the water, on the docks, in the restaurants and having fun while helping a problem out here in Destin,” said Wagner.
Moving into more city topics, Wagner spoke on new plans to develop a city center on Main St. in Desitn.
“So I ran on this particular issue as one of my top platforms that I really want to tackle and hopefully with the Council support and the city staff that we have that we can really make something happen. Here on Main St. in Destin, it’s been blighted and it’s in a CRA district and which means it needs to be redeveloped and redesigned. So since I’ve been in middle school, I look young now, but you know, it has not been moving and it’s been very stagnant for almost 2 decades now. So to have Publix come in and to potentially create a partnership with them to really make something that the locals will love and the tourists will be welcome to visit I’m really excited to make this part of Destin. We have our harbor we have the Destin Commons and to really have a City Center for the locals, the small business owners, and then for all those tourists to come and experience one more thing,” said Wagner.
Currently, the project is in the design phase. Wagner said more talks with Publix will come in the future to make a partnership for the City Center a reality.
“Hopefully the sooner the better, but realistically we just got done categorizing our top three design firms that we were potentially interested in using. We put out a bid and 11 had applied to that bid and then, at the last Council meeting, we got down and listened one-on-one with the three finalists. So now we’ve ordered them and we’ve ranked them 1, 2, and 3. Hopefully, at the June 3rd Council meeting, we will go under contract with our top design firm. From that point moving forward, we’ll still have to do a lot of talk about partnerships with Publix and really make sure that there’s a partnership there that they’re willing and looking towards moving to,” said Wagner.
As far as the design, Wagner shared his hopes for what a future City Center would look like.
“For me, it would be taking some of our older buildings, relocating them there, and trying to help our housing issues when it comes to workforce development, as well as creating new opportunities for small business owners and large ones to come in and be a part of our city center. We really want this to be a mixed-use, which is like a live, work, play. So to visualize it all for me, I see shops on the bottom, you know, maybe office space is on the 2nd floor and residential on the 3rd, potentially 4th floor, and that way we can really knock out a lot of the different issues and a lot of the different problems that we have in Destin,” said Wagner.