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ECUA Unanimously Takes Step To Sell Main Street Property To Quint Studer


  The Escambia County Utilities Authority unanimously voted Thursday to take the next step in pursuing a sale of the site of a former wastewater treatment facility to local businessman Quint Studer. 

In his address to the ECUA board Mr. Studer outlined the first phase of the proposed plan which would include sports fields, an arts and education component, and eventually a small medical park and residential space.

NAI Halford real estate agent, John Griffing, addressed the board saying that the deal was clean, at arms length, and cited his previous dealings with Mr. Studer as evidence that the process would be smooth and above-board.

Board member Vicki Campbell said she supported Mr. Studer's bid because he was, "offering cash- hard earnest money which you do not see frequently." 

ECUA board chair Lois Benson thanked Mr. Studer for the offer saying, "[the offer is] very fair, very generous.Mr Studer is making a huge investment in this community. When we moved the treatment plant it was never about just moving an ugly smelly plant, it was about opening up this area of downtown Pensacola. I am so confident this will be beyond my wildest dreams."

After the board approved the step Mr. Studer spoke with WUWF about the proposal, elaborating that when the original plan for the Community Maritime Park was reduced, and eliminated educational space with classrooms and a museum, he was disappointed.

"I have a background in education, Rishy has a background in education. I think this is an opportunity now to have courses possibly from the University of West Florida or Pensacola State College or other educational sources. Adults today are interested in education with or without certifications and degrees, it would be great to create courses and content people can take to improve their own professional and personal skills."

Studer wants to get started as quickly as possible, envisioning recreational facilities within a year. He was inspired by his longtime home of Chicago which has a public lakefront with many parks. He hopes the main street property will include a small waterpark for kids to connect the community with the waterfront.

The next phase of the development would be the educational and medical portions.

According to Studer, "Many people find hospital campuses cumbersome but want local access to primary care, urgent care, X-ray, lab work."

Studer also shared that part of the appeal of developing the main street property is that it balances the trend of development on Pensacola's East Side.

He said, "We originally saw the [proposed] YMCA as a bridge to the Westside. We have always, our belief is you don't want something to be only one sided. You can see that with our commitment and development of the Belmont-Devilliers area. We also wanted to break the racial patterns, and it seemed that everything went to the east of Pensacola- this seemed lopsided. Our hope is, if you want to create a vibrant downtown, you have to work on both sides of the street and this is what we hope that will accomplish."

Asked about the preparation of the ground and issues such as lingering sewage smells he responded that it isn't a concern.

Studer also noted the professionalism of the process citing specifically the ECUA board, ECUA Executive Director, Steve Sorrell, attorney Bradley Odom, and NAI agent John Griffing.

Echoing Ms. Benson, Mr. Studer concluded, "I am glad the ECUA board focused not just on the fair market price of the property but seeing something that can enhance the quality of life for people in this community. We're excited to turn this property into something useful."