The redevelopment of the former Hawkshaw neighborhood is considered transformational for the eastern gateway to downtown Pensacola.
A Pensacola developer’s $35 million plan for a coveted city-owned property in downtown Pensacola is expected to move forward after a city-appointed committee voted to recommend its sale and redevelopment.
Pensacola developer Bob Montgomery has offered $1.6 million to purchase and redevelop a 2.2-acre parcel of city-owned land in downtown Pensacola’s former Hawkshaw neighborhood, which sits between the new urbanist Aragon neighborhood and Pensacola Bay.
City officials have long considered the redevelopment of the Hawkshaw neighborhood property as being transformational for the eastern gateway to downtown. For more than a decade, the city has been looking to sell the property.
The property has remained vacant since the mid-1990s, when the Aragon Court housing projects were demolished. Over the past ten years, Pensacola’s city council has tried — and failed — to develop the property several times.
In March 2016, the city hired Urban Design Associates, a Pittsburgh, PA-based urban design and architecture practice. The firm held public “facilitated community workshops” in hopes of jump-starting the development of the property.
Earlier this year, the CRA hired Pensacola-based NAI Halford to market the property. As part of the process, the city appointed a three-member selection committee to review bids and development proposals for the site.
The committee members are Councilman Andy Terhaar, Christian Wagley, principal at Sustainable Town Concepts, and DeeDee Davis, executive vice president of NAI Halford.
The property hit the market in April and the deadline for offers by prospective developers was Monday. On Thursday, the selection committee met to review submitted proposals from Pensacola developer Bob Montgomery and Galvez Town, LLC, a development group led by Pensacola developer Fred Gunther.
Both bids proposed building multi-story mixed-use developments with commercial, retail, and residential space. After evaluating and scoring the two proposals, the committee voted to recommend Montgomery’s proposal, which offered $600,000 more for the parcel than Galvez Town, LLC’s $1 million purchase offer.
Montgomery, who has played a large part in developing the new urbanist Aragon neighborhood located south of the Pensacola Bay Center, plans to build a large $35 million multi-phase mixed-use development on the site. While Montgomery leads the developement team, he has partnered with Pensacola-based Caldwell Associates Architects as the architect-of-record and the Morrette Company as general contractor.
Montgomery said he began working on the proposal after witnessing the failure of past attempts to redevelop the property, which he believed weren’t compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.
“I live and work in Aragon, so for me, when I saw the past proposals for this property I just wasn’t comfortable with them,” said Montgomery. “That’s when I decided to go ahead and put a proposal together.”
The redevelopment plan proposes a multi-story mixed-use commercial and multi-family residential development that would include 39 condominium units, a full-service bar and restaurant, along with 6,500 square feet of office space. The development would be constructed in phases, with the first building on 9th Avenue including 12 residential units and office space, anchored by Montgomery’s Wine and Craft Bar, earlier proposed for the west side of 9th Avenue in the Aragon neighborhood.
If given the green light by the CRA next month, Montgomery expects to begin development “immediately,” with construction beginning as soon as next summer. Once fully built, Montgomery expects the project will generate nearly $700,000 annually in taxes to the city and CRA.
While Montgomery’s proposal was preferred by the board, Gunther’s proposal included building a $16.8 million development called Hawkshaw Square that was proposed to include up to 48 resident units that would be a mix of condos and single-family homes, along with up to 20,000 square feet of commercial space. Gunther estimated the project would contribute up to $300,000 annually in ad-valorem tax revenues to the CRA.
Montgomery’s project wouldn’t be the only new large-scale project planned for the Hawkshaw area. The project would likely be built in conjunction with two new hotels planned for the adjacent five-acre property to the north at 8 North 9th Avenue.
“Having 200 hotel rooms right next door to this project will be absolutely positive for this project,” Montgomery said. “The hotels are great but I do think we would have gone forward with this had they not been planned.”
Pensacola hotelier Mitesh Patel purchased that property in 2016 for $3 million through Patel’s Sai Laxmi Pensacola, LLC. Currently in the planning phase with the city, Patel envisions a dual-brand hotel development, opening both an Aloft and Element by Westin late next year.
The future of Montgomery’s envisioned redevelopment will be decided next month, where the CRA will vote to approve or reject the proposal.
This story will be updated.
Read the proposals here: