The chairman of the Flagler Beach City Commission and the chairman of the county’s tourism council, who also sits on the County Commission, both have questions about the location and the cost of building a potential visitor center the county’s tourism division is eying for South 9th Street and State Road A1A in Flagler Beach.
When Flagler County tourism director Amy Lukasik updated the County Commission on the division’s goals–or strategic plan–last Monday, she referred to the need for a visitors’ center, specified that it should be on the south side of Flagler Beach and that time was running short for finding a location.
Lukasik had made a similar presentation to the Tourist Development Council late last month, with one difference: she’d showed images of the property whose owners the county administration was negotiating with, a 0.37-acre lot at the corner of South 9th Street and State Road A1A in Flagler Beach. She’d won the tourism board’s consensus to, in her words, “move forward with our due diligence of getting those appraisals and executing the option agreement to protect them and us.” The listed price of the lot, $1.5 million, owned by Coastal Cloud Properties LLC, was not mentioned to the TDC board.
Tim hale, an owner of the property, said it has been on the market for a few months. “The TDC offer is well below the current listing price,” he said. (“The purchase price of wherever we land, we’re bound by statute,” Lukasik said. “And so whatever a listing price is does not mean that’s what we pay we pay. We pay the average of two appraisals.” Whatever the terms of a purchase, local, general fund dollars would not be used.)
The property was not mentioned to the County Commission on Monday because the matter is not yet ready for discussion there, Commissioner Dave Sullivan, who chairs the TDC board, said. He said the listed price is too high for the county, and there are questions about the location of the visitors’ center. Sullivan himself, for example, would prefer the center to be located closer to the center of town. He mentioned the possibility of Flagler Beach City Hall moving to the Wickline Center campus at 800 Sough Daytona Avenue and putting the City Hall location up for sale, creating an opportunity for the county.
“We’re hanging fire,” Sullivan said of the property on South 9th. “There are better places in Flagler Beach than that lot, but I think she did mention that we’re running out of possibilities even in Flagler Beach.”
Monday’s County Commission agenda was already full, he said, so starting a discussion about the property acquisition was delayed. “It just didn’t seem the exact right time to bring it forward,” he said. Since the presentation to the TDC board, the proposal has caused further discussions and reactions, with Sullivan himself hearing about possibilities of perhaps locating the visitors’ center on State Road 100 rather than on A1A, whether near Colbert Lane or near the bike and foot bridge now under construction, itself “a symbol of the county and the beach,” as Sullivan described it. “All those are being considered but right now if you look at all factors involved if we could get a good location on A1A, where the tourists are, that seems to be best.”
To Flagler Beach Commission Chairman Eric Cooley, who has also served on the TDC, both the acquisition of the land on South 9th and locating a visitors’ center there makes no sense. “Flagler County already owns a huge parcel of land on the south side of 100 that tourism can utilize for free,” Cooley said of an 82-acre site with long frontage on 100, just east of Old Kings Road. “It is ideal for this use. I was one of the folks who sat on the TDC for many years and contributed to this specific strategic plan driving the concept of a interactive tourism center for the entire county–not just Flagler Beach.”
Cooley said the State Road 100 location would capture 75 to 90 percent of traffic going into Flagler Beach. Of the the A1A location for a center, he said: “I am not stating that is wrong, but it makes no sense to me from a logistic standpoint. Being fiscally responsible with tax dollars regardless of source is paramount. The first proposed location (direct oceanfront A1a) is an at-risk location, undersized, out of the way, and overpriced. Intercepting incoming traffic and maximization of tax dollars should be top priorities and this location should be undergoing the same consideration as the oceanfront property. This would also save tax funds to invest in needed tourist-driven capital improvements in the destination itself, because that will drive tourists to the area over a visitor center.”
“There’s a basic feeling–why are you going to put the the visitor center in Flagler Beach,” Sullivan conceded. But “the argument for a visitor center near the beach makes a lot of sense.” It would be both visitor center and tourism division headquarters. The tourism bureau is currently renting space from a building at the county airport.
Addressing the commission on Monday, Lukasik said the tourism division has identified a grant that would help with construction. “The Experience Center will be all encompassing of Flagler County no matter where it is,” Lukasik said. “You will walk in and be able to get a total feel of the entire county and everything that we offer.” It would offer such things as “food-walking tours,” working with local restaurants to enable the visitor to meet at the visitor center, pay for the ticket (part of the revenue would go to the tourism bureau), and be guided through their food experience.
“We will never have huge attractions. We don’t want that, we don’t want the boardwalk with all the carni[val] rides and games. We want packages and experiences that match the DNA of our community,” Lukasik said. Along those lines, she said the visitor center “should be where the visitors already are.” In her thinking, “it makes no sense for us to be off I-95. “People already know where they’re going. If they’re visitors, they’re likely going east, so while we wouldn’t want to ask them to stop. We want to be where they’re already going. So it’s very important that we keep it as logistically easy for them.” That means the south side of Flagler Beach, she said. “There’s also a lot of organic foot traffic that’s happening throughout the business district down there and we need to be able to capture as much of that as possible to be successful.”
Bunnell and West Side residents may see it differently, especially as both those sectors have been trying to position themselves for more tourism possibilities, whether through the county’s ecotourism, its agricultural base or its history. And foot traffic as far south as 9th Street, however, is light but for existing residents.
While Lukasik never mentioned the South 9th location to commissioners, she repeated the cautions she spoke to the TDC board, with obvious allusions to the location. “When we talked about the importance of the location, land is quickly diminishing and what is left, the prices are continuing to rise,” she said. “So we are looking to move quickly on this but not without all the proper due diligence because we want to be successful.” She added: “When we find one that we feel meets our criteria and that we are confident that we will be successful, the next step is we take it before the TDC for approval and discussion. And then if it’s recommended by the TDC, we bring it before the BOCC,” the acronym for Board of County Commissioners.
In a reference to a series of real estate transactions that soured over the past decade or so for the county, Cooley noted: “The county and tourism need to pick sites conservatively and be cautious on overspending as has been witnessed with other projects.”
Click to access BOCC_FLAGLER-COUNTY-VISITOR-EXPERIENCE-CENTER.pdf
Use What U Got says
The perfect location is in the front left portion of Wadsworth Park. Check The Flagler County Property Appraiser site to see my point. There’s more than enough room to build on property all ready owned.
Jack Pine Savage says
Sounds like a reasonable suggestion.
The Voice Of Reason says
In a word, no. Flagler Beach is and has been a gem of an old Florida beach town. Don’t ruin it by opening up the floodgates of tourism. This will enrich a few and destroy the ambience and quality of life of a great city. Please let this unique place retain it’s timeless charm. Look at St Augustine, once a charming historical town, now an overcrowded, congested, miserable tourist trap of the highest order.
G A says
It is pretty clear that someone’s palm is getting greased on this horribly bad idea. Anyone with the merest whit of common sense would say to go with the property the county already owns! Good location, lots of room for parking, near 95. Wait, I did say common sense, right???
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Eric Cooley should be in charge of tourism. He is correct about everything he said. Who in their right mind builds a tourist center smack in the middle of where you are telling people where to go when they are already there? Secondly the parel Amy is pushing has no parking and it is a no no to build anything close to the dunes.
Speaking of crazy places to put a tourist welcome cente how about the Old Hotel on Old Dixie? Tear down that dump which is right smack at the southernmost entrance to Flagler County .or just leave it the way it is…’Welcome to Flagler County’ only 3 miles as the crow flies to beautiful Flagler Beach. Plenty of parking, too!
Jack Pine Savage says
Too many tourists have already left the area by the time they cross Old Dixie
Jane Gentile-Youd says
Jack I was being sarcastic about the Old Dixie Hotel Dump . I suggested to the BOCC last Monday that Amy should make that horrific rat infested POS the first stop on a ‘Welcome to Flagler’ tourist bus….
Gina Weiss says
I agree with Mr. Cooley: Free v/s 1.5 million, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. Leave the once little sleepy town of Flagler Beach alone to retain it’s small town charm. We all see how crowded it already gets during holidays and bike week. People who own their homes there don’t need those giant RV’S pulling up to a tourist center to pick up a bunch of flyers and taking up all their parking , was the parking ever taken into consideration? If you really want to talk about footprints we certainly don’t need more high volume traffic in that area.
It makes absolutely no sense to put a County Tourism Center in the already congested Flagler Beach. This needs to be on SR100, east of 95.
Here’s an Idea – Why don’t they just incorporate the two small cities “Palm Coast – Flagler Beach visitor center”, There is nothing in Flagler Beach to warrant a visitor center let alone a 1.5 to 2 million dollar one. There are many humanitarian issues we should be using that kind of money for. This is just a silly idea.
I think you need to build another Bridge in the middle of nowhere for several million that ought to fix things. someone has deep pockets and no one is minding the store.
The County does not need a “Taj Mahal” of a visitors center with interactive displays and such in one location. Could be done at a couple locations within the County just for the price of what they’re asking for that lot. Should have one in Flagler Beach but not at the cost of beach side. More in the core area just around the corner from A1A. They propose walking tours for restaurants, then grab them right where the bulk of the restaurants are. Then another smaller location can be established in Bunnell right along U.S 1 near 100. A third can be added at a later date farther West. Visitors go to to visitor centers to find the local deals and information on rooms, restaurants and events. Not to play games or learn local history. There are plenty of those attractions in Flagler County and the visitors center should be promoting and encouraging those visits.
Whoa, pump the brakes on Tourist Centers at multiple locations. This is for the tourists & they need it to be a walk-able distance where they are staying in Flagler Beach, if not in the lobby of the new hotel they’re building. FEMA is also paying for a new concrete pier, it can be at the front end of the pier just the same ? I just don’t envision anyone driving to a Bunnell at US-1 location, even though it’s one of the main North-South roads in & out of Flagler County.
Jimbo your idea for the front of the pier is excellent, the hotel would be private owned and could present problems. I only mentioned Bunnell because of the above story, need to find a balance with whole county not just East side. “Bunnell and West Side residents may see it differently, especially as both those sectors have been trying to position themselves for more tourism possibilities,”
Denise Calderwood says
The city of Palm Coast owns all of the land next to AK Tire just east of Bulldog Drive. It is nearly the Center of Flagler County …it is Jarozs st. It’s is a gem of a property and the city could be partners and use some CDD dollars. Enough with Coastal Cloud…this deal stinks…. Haven’t they taken enough from our residents. I thought it was a new era is
In Flagler County with new leadership so why can’t we work together for the good of our county. In no way should a visitor center be located on South 9th st. This deal smells just as bad as rotten fish! And whoever votes for it needs to be ousted out of office. Amy have you forgotten the promise of a visitor center entering Flagler County from US1 outlining Heritage Crossroads???? The 100 corridor is the area and please if you want to showcase our county don’t forget the west side. We don’t need to buy any land work it out through collaboration……the Jarozs site is big and the city was talking at one time of putting a pool or a recreation center there so have open and honest communication…..and maybe you could put your aquarium there or whatever crazy idea you are thinking of!
Gina Weiss says
Denise: No aquariums please, no captivity, let’s keep these creatures in the ocean where they belong wild and free, mostly all off the dolphins and orcas living in captivity have died from infections because of living in captivity, what is with this person and her crazy ideas she needs to come out of the 70’s and 80’s.
what’s with this person and her crazy ideas that she has to mouth off on every subject published in this media
Again here Bob P…. attacking the First Amendment of women in this county and cities! Not only he does the attack here but last week looks like he did it from the air hovering over her house picking up dust from the ground in a menacing way? Maybe a case for the NTSB https://www.ntsb.gov/Pages/home.aspx
Is that what we pay taxes to sustain our inefficient EVAC chopper use by one of their henchmen while attacking or suing the residents that speak against threatening county projects endangering their quality of life, safety, pursue of happiness with their disastrous malfeasant of our hard earned taxes? Mr Cooley is correct and here in Palm Coast no one resident wants our county taxes the highest on our ad valoren taxes to be wasted in no 1/3 acre @ 1.5 million Coastal Cloud owned lot that will have no room for tourist information lookers to park on an already crowded A1A. Whos palm being greased Coastal Cloud’s again? Why FCBOCC gets busy provisding and funding right away the west county broadband instead, the free clinic for the needy drug and mentally ill treatment facilities and help preserve the Belle Terre swim pool for the residents use other than let it face away. Stop building Taj Mahals (the unneeded 16 million library too ) to yourselves and approving disastrous developers projects like the Gardens on the Flagler County taxpayers dimes! While the residents have to spend in pricey excellent lawyers to fight the ones we elect and seat to represent us and instead stab us in the back once in power.
all over the place again – focus seems to be beyond your abilities
Nobody is driving to FPC HS in Bunnell/Palm Coast that is west of I-95 for a Tourist Center. If they put it there, they might as well close it down like all the other Welcome Tourist Centers in Flagler County has eventually shuttered. This sb located in Flagler Beach, because the beach is the attraction to the area, where the tourism tax is generated in the 1st place. I agree that 904 OCEAN SHORE BLVD S is too expensive. I think they need to set up something in the lobby of the new hotel or add it onto the new pier. Perhaps even put it inside the Flagler Beach Museum.
There is no room for a Hotel either! Anyone ever hear of Eminent Domain?
This is the physical address per Google Maps:
904 S Ocean Shore Blvd
Per Flagler County Property Search for this exact address: 904 OCEAN SHORE BLVD S. Coastal bought the property in 2013 for $ 437.5K
Why this Tourist Center wouldn’t be located closer to the new hotel to be built on FL-100 or even inside the Flagler Beach Museum is a head scratcher for me. Here’s another idea, Since FEMA is paying for the majority of a pier rebuild to concrete, why not build a small tourist center at the front end of the pier. As it stands now, there is the Funky Pelican, the lifeguard station, a Bait & Tackle business, the radio station and a restroom facilities. Make the new pier large enough to have a Tourist Center too. That close to the new hotel, it’s walk-able, more so than a 1/2 mile away at 9th Street South. Imagine having a Tourist Center at the front end of the pier that FEMA will rebuild if a hurricane ever wipes out the pier completely ? The dunes are already rebuilt there ? They’ll come in & do that too whenever storm damage occurs. The pier restaurant has parking in front of the pier and even on the other side of A1A already.
There is a new residential that sold for $ 1.55 million with 4,564 sq ft of multi-level living area in Feb 2022. Too much to pay for a vacant lot & still have to build a structure & parking lot. That lot location at 9th Street South hasn’t sold in a decade. At a tentative $ 1.5 million, it isn’t worth what the 4,500+ sq ft Mc Mansion that just sold this month.
Gina Weiss says
Jimbo99: Good ideas, plus they don’t need a big space built for a tourist center on a expensive lot, they just need a small space in a existing place where they can pay rent and if it flops goodbye!
Jimbo99 has it right
Aunt Edna says
Did Sullivan give up his commission seat to Amy Lukasik? Have you all lost your minds? Why did we spend thousands on a tourism website?
Seems to me that money would be better spent on saving our beach.
Some great ideas here. . . just hope the “decision makers” are reading them. The Wadsworth park location sounds great. . . with parking already there. Why not have some tourist information in the current museum, also. A really easy to use, good looking, high quality tourism web site is vital.
Gina Weiss says
Sherry: I would like to add that there are power in numbers, elections for seats are coming up and these decision makers will be paying for the consequences of their poor decisions. People down here are joining up with others despite political party because they are fed up with the shenanigans and the hate and lack of compassion for our fellow citizens, because in the end we all pay the price!
YES! Vote Vote Vote!
Celia M Pugliese says
Yes the current FCBOCC neds out one at the time! By now maybe we should start contacting the NTSB regarding who, what and why is houvering above our homes: https://www.ntsb.gov/about/board/Pages/Jennifer-Homendy.aspx
Celia M Pugliese says
Actually is needs not neds. My type gets worse depending the issue.
Gina, Mark, Celia. . .
Absolutely! We all must VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! A huge change is needed, especially with our BOCC and School Board. I personally would love to see more younger, rational, open minded, diverse leaders in those positions. The “good ole boys” club of the BOCC needs to be voted OUT! The right winged radicalized “book banning” women on the school board need to be ousted as well.
What is it with “bob” harassing members of our community by hovering above there homes? Can someone catch me up? Can Flaglerlive check this out?
Gina Weiss says
We don’t exactly know yet about this situation there was a chopper which came over our homes the past week which flew very low several times, it if was the military, mosquito control of if they were looking for criminl activity that all makes sense to us, when I inquired to Roy Sieger , airport director, about this his reply was that he was not able to identify the chopper, I emailed Heidi Petito whose response was that Roy told her the same that he was not able to id it. Our verbal agreement per our zoom meeting was that the airport administrators were going to enforce the voluntary noise abatement policies and fly friendly with the flight schools and the instructors, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t as we are still hearing flight school planes practicing when the airport is closed after 10pm sometimes all the way to close to 12 midnight and there are also days when they are not flying friendly or following the noise abatement policies. When we log the times this happens and report to Roy he tells me he calls the flight schools and informs them of our policies, I just don’t know how much they listen. If these noise abatement policies were not voluntary and they violate them they would be fined. Ms. Petito did inform me that they need to continue to educate the flight schools and instructors and to discourage more home building here but that’s a joke, there has been many many new homes that are built and many continue to be built plus keep in mind the 200 or more duplexes that are zoned to go up on Citation and Belle Terre. She also said that the realitors are to inform the potential home owners proximity of the airport which is another joke because as I keep on saying it’s the numerous flight schools that are the problem, not the military, not the private plane owners or whoever flies in every now and then on their private jet. Some say that this is growth of a airport which is more BS, these flight school planes fly in from Daytona and use our airport as a toxic waste dump dropping leaded fuel as they continously circle and circle and practice their touch and goes then they all go back. Do they buy our fuel? Do they rent hangers IDK .
G A says
Preach it Gina!
Celia M Pugliese says
On February 19th at 10.16 am I emailed the Airport Director Roy Sieger regarding the late nuisance of roaring engines overhead our homes 10 miles and further from the airport in North Palm Coast to at least Rte 100 that I saw along our intracoastal. Thou I know he received my email he never had the courtesy or profesionalism to reply to me while as a taxpayer I/we fund his handsome pay. My email first paragraph read next: “Yesterday Friday Febuary 18th at 10.19 PM at least two aircraft (probably you can confirm in the log) of your mostly foreign (9-11 still fresh in our memories) flight students and instructors were a real noise and safety concern nuisance making rounds and rounds over our residential community in North Palm Coast from the area of the Agricultural Museum creating nervousness for even the horses in the stables in what otherwise should have been a beautiful peraceful night. From there flying their rattling engines with stops and starts houvering over the city’s F,C, Palm Harbor, Woodlands, Grand Haven and Palm Coast Plantation sections in just what I see intentionally creating a noise nuisance and safety concern for us all in the ground and also violating our right to rest, sleep and enjoyable quality of life”. The email now will be copied to the county manager and the FCBOCC… to have a trail record in case we have to go higher. I, we understand that student pilots have to also practice at night but the continuously violated airport Fly Flriendly policy could control that they do it away from the strip of land ovber the communities mentioned in my email to Sieger, that are overpopulated areas, when we have plenty of agricultural lands west of Rte 1 or over the ocean along our coast. But nope they suck it to us with total impunity while lying about the FC Aiport Fly Friendly cartel. What about copying the New Smyrna Airport policies after the fight the residents put up against their former airport nuisance….https://www.cityofnsb.com/1285/Noise-Abatement-Procedures . Maybe the Flagler and Ormond Airport Directors should enforce what is promised or if not capable leave the position to the one that will have the courage that takes to do it and at least confirm reception of our complaints.
G A says
Thank you for bringing this to the attention of the Palm Coast public. Palm Coast residents are sadly misinformed that the residents of housing near the airport bought our homes willy nilly disregarding the airport nearby.
The airport with it’s private planes flying in and out has NEVER been the problem. However, the flight schools, which were not flying over our heads when we bought our home, ARE the problem. It is really a very simple distinction – yet some either aren’t interested in the truth of it or are just too ignorant to understand this elementary concept.
Gina Weiss says
G A : SPOT ON! BULLIES IN THE SKY! I really did not intend for this forum to become a airport forum we can all thank “bob” for his calculated manipulating vinditive remarks which at that point had nothing to do with our airport therefore I had to step in to defend myself and our community. The people in power want us to believe that we don’t have a say in who uses our airport but they are sadly mistaken because we have the power, we are the power, it’s time to RAISE ALL OUR VOICES IN OUR COMMUNITES letting them know we are mad as hell and we ain’t going to take it anymore, we will be crossing party lines in future elections and joining together to all having a decent quality of life whether it be airport issues, overdevelopment, wasteful spending, improving our schools by raising impct fees. We must ban together and become united, attend all meetings having to do with this and make our voices heard in those meetings public forums. New Smyra Beach did it, Volusia County did it , Ormond is in the process and we shall too. The people who you mention who are not interested are the ones who don’t live here and are money hungry self interest groups. We know more about them then they think. Sadly our FCBOCC who can step in and do something has sold us out so we must vote them out. This goes out to all of them: TOO MANY FLIGHT SCHOOLS IN OUR DENSELY POPULATED AREAS. It’s all about the money, the flight schools charge each student somewhere between 22,000-26,000 a semester, let them go and practice somewhere else there are plenty of open land and spaces where they can but they do it cause its convenient for them to do so.
Tom Doyle says
I agree 100% with Mr. Cooley . The reasons are obvious !
Thanks Gina and Celia. . . you have really educated me on the whole flight school thing. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine that there would be much help from DeSantis. . . and, our own BOCC is worse than useless. Too much money involved! An uphill battle for sure!
What is the FAA Ombudsman saying about your options?