The long-planned $18 million Gulf Coast Marine Fisheries Hatchery & Enhancement Center won’t move forward at Pensacola’s Bruce Beach after state officials said Tuesday they would seek a termination of their lease for the site.
The hatchery, originally approved in 2011, had been the subject of criticism and litigation since developer Quint Studer pulled his support and became a vocal critic of the project last year.
“This decision is based on our assessment that community support for the location of the project on the Bruce Beach site is insufficient to ensure the long-term success of the project,” the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement. “While court rulings thus far have been favorable to the project, ongoing legal action taken by members of the community have resulted in delays which have had a significant financial impact.”
It’s not yet clear whether the project could still end up in Pensacola at another site or if officials will seek to relocate the project to another community.
“Going forward, FWC will work with other state and federal trustees on the Florida Trustee Implementation Group to seek an alternative site for this $18.7 million project as currently designed,” said the FWC statement.
Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, who had spearheaded the project, said that the city would “continue to work with FWC on other opportunities that will bring value to our region.”
“Our goal has always been to activate the waterfront,” said Hayward. “I know that our community has other visionary ideas for the Bruce Beach site and I am confident that we can achieve our goal in a way that will turn out to be a win for our community.”