Special Report: Feast or Famine

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Bay County is in the midst of another construction boom. However, it’s not as big as the one back in the early 2000’s.

In fact, you don’t have to look very far to find remnants of some of the projects developers started, but never completed when the bubble burst in 2008.

The 60-acre Morningside housing development off U.S. Highway 231 long ago became a pipe farm.

“There are subdivisions all over this county. Which most of them now are called pipe farms because they hadn’t been developed. There’s pipes out of the ground,” said President/CEO, ERA Neubauer Real Estate, Inc., Tom Neubauer.

Neubauer says the project was one of many that began in the early 2000’s, and ended shortly after the market crash in 2008.

“It was really just a product of the recession,” said Callaway Mayor, Pamn Henderson.

Callaway has it’s share of disappointment with abandoned developments. The city actually extended water and sewer lines to accommodate several hundred houses planned in the Eastbay development on Poston Road. Then the housing market took a nose-dive.

Without the new houses, there wasn’t enough sewage to pump through the lift station near Callaway City Hall. That was partially responsible for a potentially deadly methane gas dispute between that county and the city, that is just now being resolved.

City officials may have a reason as to why someone isn’t fishing for those projects with sewage and roads already in place.

“It may be a funding issue. In some cases I think they just felt like the market’s not there anymore. So, why put anymore money into it to have units that are going to sit vacant,” said Henderson.

Some may not be willing to take the gamble, but others see the possibilities the abandoned developments offer.

Henderson says a man named Michael Goellner bought Eastbay. He’s already begun construction on a boathouse.

Neubauer says there’s new interests in these properties because of the improving market. 

“We’re able to attract new industry. We’re able to attract projects like the MQ-9 Reaper Wing base-wide project at Tyndall and we’re able to tell the developers that are coming in that we have the capacity to grow,” said Neubauer.

Eastern Shipbuilding’s new contract to build U.S. Coast Cutters, and GKN Aerospace’s new venture crossing plant at the airport will help increase the housing demand.

Neubauer says he’s now marketing a rejuvenated Morningside development.

“The owner of the project has come back and said here’s what we’re willing to do. So, I think there’ll be some interest in the next few weeks,” said Neubauer.

Another pipe dream, turned pipe farm on Back Beach Road is poised to make a comeback.

Ronnie Gilley and country star Alan Jackson broke ground on La Borgata in 2006, before Gilley’s highly-publicized legal problems and bankruptcy.

“The bank and developer have worked on a partnership to get it sold and I think it’s going to present some great opportunities for somebody,” said Neubauer.

Old may be new again, but they’ll be competing with a lot of first-time developments on the Eastside.

D.R. Horton will build as many as 96 townhomes at Sentinel Point on Tyndall Parkway. The first phase is scheduled to open in April.

Horton is also building Bridge Harbor off Boat Race Road and Berthe Avenue.

Infrastructure is 75% complete, with it’s first phase, ‘The Grove’, going ont the market as early as this summer.

“I think it’s good news for Bay County that things are turning around, and development is starting to happen again because for so long everything was stagnant,” said Henderson.

“We got a long way to go to get back to where we were in 2003-2004. But the demand is there,” said Neubauer. 

Neubauer says condo numbers are also growing, and prices are surging due to high demand. 

Callaway commissioners are scheduled to approved the first phase of Bridge Harbor during their February 27th meeting.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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