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Studer: Maritime Park Lease "Not Feasible"

Lindsay Myers

A proposed multi-million dollar project at Community Maritime Park has been scrapped, after the City of Pensacola rejected the proposed leases for three parcels.

After nine months of negotiations, businessman Quint Studer pulled out of the deal to develop parcels three, six, and nine to house the UWF Center for Entrepreneurship, a convention center, and a child care facility. Starting rent would have been $120,000 per year, with a 7% increase every five years.

Attorney Scott Remington, who represents the Studers, contends there were 22 changes in the leases made by the city, which formed the overall deal-breaker for his clients. He was asked if any of them stand out.  

“Probably it would have been the financial terms, and the length of the lease were the ones that were the biggest surprise to us,” Remington said. “Because we felt like we had already negotiated those.”

“Our attorneys met on Wednesday and by all indications, we strongly felt that we were going to move forward to get a deal done,” said Mayor Ashton Hayward. “I was just truly surprised by them pulling out.”

Hayward says while the Studers have a proven track record when it comes to development, the city still needed the proposal in writing.

“I know some of the things we were concerned about was the lease term, the approval of the uses, timeline parking, rent adjustment,” said Hayward. “In the beginning it was in the lease that they weren’t going to have to build for five years and they could assign the lease.”

The Pensacola City council gave conceptual approval to the project, and a 60-day window to work out the terms of the leases. The talks were held on Wednesday. The following day, a statement from Hayward’s office said he was “looking forward to hearing the Studers’ response.”

Attorney Scott Remington says the three parcels at Maritime Park are not the only potential locations for the projects, pointing to the 25 acres Quint and Rishy Studer own in downtown Pensacola.

Studer is quoted in the Pensacola News Journal as saying “When one door closes, another one will open.” Remington says that’s already been borne out.

“When the door was closed at Maritime Park for the YMCA, another one opened at the [Pensacola News Journal’s old] site,” said Remington.

“Based on the proposals that they made with the lease, we think that the city probably believes that there’s a better project or something else they’d rather see on that site,” Remington added.

As far as the future of parcels three, six, and nine – Mayor Ashton Hayward is optimistic another deal can be made elsewhere.

“The economy has really picked up, exciting things are going on in Pensacola,” said the Mayor. “People want to be downtown. I strongly feel the value of the property is going to increase. I’m still leaving the door open, and I think there are some great things that are going to be happening.”

It’s not as if the city was blindsided by this decision. At a special City Council meeting earlier this month, Quint Studer read a letter which said, in part, that they had arrived at a “procedural crossroads,” and if forced to start over with negotiations, he and his wife may decide to put their time, energy and resources elsewhere.

The proposed leases and other documents related to the project can be accessed at the City of Pensacola's website HERE.