Hayward & Studer Say Despite Disagreements They Are On The Same Page
It appears that rumors of a rift between Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward and businessman Quint Studer are overblown or without merit. Both feel they’re still on the same economic development page.
It began last month, when Studer pulled out of a tender to develop three parcels at Community Maritime Park – including the University of West Florida Center for Entrepreneurship. The city made 22 changes to the plan, which proved to be the deal-breaker. Mayor Ashton Hayward said while Quint and Rishy Studer have a proven track record when it comes to development, the city still had some concerns.
Afterward, there were media reports of bad blood between Hayward and Studer, with much of the criticism aimed at the Mayor.
“I think it’s unfortunate,” said Hayward. “We have so much momentum in our city, the last thing our citizens want to read about is anything negative. We’ve go to report the news, however like I said, lines of communication got crossed.”
Last week a photo of a smiling Ashton Hayward and Quint Studer appeared on Twitter, which led some to think the hatchet had been buried. But both say there was never any hatchet to bury.
“I think we’ve always had the mutual respect for each other,” the Mayor said. “Mr. Studer is a businessman that’s done a tremendous amount for our great city.”
“Anytime you’re in relationships you’re going to have a few things that just don’t work out,” said Studer. “But that doesn’t mean that you take your ball and go home.”
Studer points out a number of projects on which he and the Hayward Administration have partnered: a new use agreement with the City of Pensacola; the new office building at Community Maritime Park, and the apartment project at the old Pensacola News Journal site.
Their next project, says Studer, is a cold-weather shelter for homeless women and children.
“Overall, I think we’re fine,” Studer said. “I think somehow people want to make an issue, and some people I think want to see the benefit from creating a ‘we/they’ between I and the Mayor (sic). But I don’t think that’s how I feel and I don’t think that’s the way the Mayor feels.”
However, the Maritime Park plan for parcels 3, 6, and 9 remains off the table. Rather than building from the ground up, Studer is now looking to place the UWF Center for Entrepreneurship, a daycare facility and a convention center in existing space.
Studer says he’s been keeping up with the controversies arising from the Mayor’s office – the most recent involving City Administrator Eric Olson and what appear to be private emails sent by an NAS Pensacola employee while at work.
“I just hope we can resolve a lot of these things that are going on,” Studer said. “Some of them I’m sure are like the Mayor said before were a few ‘do-overs.’ I just hope we can resolve these issues because we all need to working at how we address issues in the community to move the community forward.”
Bringing in new businesses and industry to the Pensacola area has been a priority for the Hayward administration. And the Mayor believes the misfire on the three CMP parcels won’t disturb that.
“I think everyone knows that in the City of Pensacola, we have a ‘pro-business’ attitude,” said Hayward.
Just after walking away from the parcels, Quint Studer was quoted in the Pensacola News Journal as saying “When one door closes, another one will open.” It appears that both he and Mayor Ashton Hayward are putting that into practice.