Reacting to the despondent backlash over the county’s decision to demolish the quarter-century-old restaurant at Bull Creek Fish Camp on the westernmost side of Flagler, County Commissioner Leann Pennington today asked her colleagues and the county administration to make some kind of replacement amenity there a priority in next year’s budget. (See: “Bull Creek Fish Camp Will Be Torn Down Against Lease-Holder’s Wishes, With No Plans for Rebuild.”)
“No one expects to see a restaurant back in the area,” Pennington said, but the county should “prioritize adding a pavilion or some structure to that site so that people can enjoy it.” Pennington underscored that need now that county facilities such as the park at Shell Bluff and and access to Russell landing have been compromised.
The 2,500 square foot restaurant was built in 1997. The county bought it as part of a 29-acre, $1.8 million acquisition in 2007, with money drawn from the county’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands fund, to which taxpayers contribute through their property tax bill (the fund was approved by referendum). Hurricanes Ian and Nicole sent floodwaters coursing through the restaurant. Nicole’s waters did not fully recede for a month, damaging the structure, according to an inspection conducted for the county.
The restaurant lease had just months before been transferred from Chris Zwirn, who’d run the facility since 2014, to Alberto Domenech, who runs the Latino Market and Bakery at Palm Coast’s St. Joe Plaza. Domenech implored the county to let him repair the building and carry on. He was convinced that the building’s damages were not as serious as the county was saying.
County Administrator Heidi Petito told commissioners late last month that the cost of repairing the building would be more than 50 percent of its valuation. The building’s just market value is currently $233,300, according to the Flagler County Property Appraiser’s website. It’s mere building value is $133,000.
Pennington described the Bull Creek issue as “very contentious” as she voiced her reaction at the end of a county commission meeting this morning. “I got quite a lot of feedback and calls from the residents out there,” Pennington said. “That building is near and dear to that community. It started in the 50s. It had some restoration in the 90s and it has seen quite a bit of storms and bounced right back.” She said she met with the administration and went through the inspection at length.
Pennington doesn’t dispute that the building’s slab has sunk up to 3 inches in some areas, she said, that the “electrical is completely gone,” that windows are no longer aligned with the building’s frame, and that repair costs would be $2 million. She seemed skeptical about that figure, and indeed a 2,500 square foot building with a 700-foot apartment on its second floor would have to graze the ramparts of a mansion’s luxury to generate such costs. “How they came up with that, you know, is some interesting things,” Pennington said, without elaborating.
“Bull Creek is a legacy site in this county,” the commissioner said. “It’s about the only place you can probably watch the sunset in the west. It has a lot of tradition out there. People have come over from Crescent City on the weekends to have lunch, and right now we are at a position where we’re not able to, due to financial constraints, even putting a pavilion.”
Pennington said even a food-truck option would be a good start. “I really just want to implore on us to look at a solution for them as a priority of something,” Pennington said. “They’re just losing their amenities out there and we’re not replacing them back quite as quickly. The West is a huge part of economic development with [agriculture] and they deserve the right to enjoy their amenities as well.”
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN says
Good for you Leann, we are sick and tired of seeing historical places like the brick road and land being ripped up for ugly multiunit overcroweded parcel developments and ugly storage units, maybe this is what the remaining 2 clowns on that commission are thinking of with their development buddies, it’s about time we now have someone who is the voice of the
people , the taxpayers! And what ever happened to the Old Dixie Highway decrepit hotel which is REALLY falling apart which
they should be taking down???
Smith Darrell says
“So people can enjoy it ” Pennington? What do you think they were doing when they drove out to that godforsaken place just to go to that restaurant?
JUDITH A SWEENEY says
I have no idea what you are insinuating, but if you could state what that may be, that would clear things up for us.
And the “Godforsaken place” part?
Many of us who live nearby will miss being able to get some food, sit and watch the river run, and meet new friends.
Just spend, spend, and spend!!!!
She said she would represent the community and this article proves that.
Unfortunately the County Commission before her has mismanaged the the place and it’s up keep.
Thanks Commissioner Pennington!
2 million seems bogus. Let the tenant fix it up as requested.
Dennis C Rathsam says
For Sale….Luxury waterfront townhomes, starting at $599.99. Thats whats comming, theres too much money to be made here! As another Flagler peice of history is destroyed.
Greed destroys all around us including historical sites. Some developer may have eyes on it with the county big pockets approval. Good for commissioner Pennington but as I hear the rest will vote her request down as all else they are keeping her from doing as well or in the dark… Sullivan, Obrien and Hansen have to go O’Brien term limit I hear running for state seat..?
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN says
palmcoaster: How can O’Brien even think about running for Senate, What has he done for Flagler County besides hand over our land to developers by passing votes with the other stooges, he aligned himself with Mullins and allowed Mullins to continue with his crazy behavior and then voted to reward him with the gavel and wasn’t O”Brien involved with a some kind of lawsuit some years ago, what was that about, he is also rude and arrogant with his faux smile stating that he is ready, ready for what, to perpetuate the rest of the destruction of our flauna and flora? No , he is not for we the people, he should leave and go run his other business or whatever.
Rebuild the restaurant and do not allow cabins to be built. The county can waste millions on sand on the beaches to be washed away. But nothing on the west side.
JOE D says
Although I would like to give the new owner the option of TRYING to build something up to modern code…say within 3-5 years, and THEN decide is it needs to be torn down—2.2 million seems excessive to build a replacement, but maybe in todays construction costs it might not be exaggerated….
I MUST take exception to the “wasted millions “ on sand replenishment. The Flagler County beach areas generate multi-millions MORE in out of area and out of STATE tourist dollars which pay for a CONSIDERABLE amount of non-beach services for the REMAINDER of Flagler County. If they ignored the beach, would not even want to venture a GUESS what your local property tax bill would go up to, to provide the County with the same level of County Services enjoyed now, throughout the ENTIRE County
As an example my small 2 bed/1.5 bath Flagler Beach facing 1150 sq ft townhouse is contributing $6500 in property taxes, which benefits all those living in Flagler County, not just the beach!
Roy Longo says
To the naysayers of building something at Bull Creek, I am willing to bet you never had dinner on the porch as the sun was setting. Or have breakfast as an alligator patrolled it’s territory on Dead Lake. There is no other place in Flagler County to enjoy any meal and see gators, fish jumping, so many majestic birds and one the most beautiful areas to watch the setting sun.
Bunnell Residence says
If you’ve never seen the sunsets at the Fish Camp 2006, do your self a favor and take a ride. But first stop through the County Cooler and get a cup of ice cream, i like colored sprinkles, and just enjoy the scenery. The Haw Creek preserve is out that way too with a great walking trail.
Jeff Sawyer says
Speaking from someone who does not live there yet but visits multiple times a year, I recently discovered the Bull Creek area and thought it was great. I saw the restaurant and would have eaten there if it was open. I also drove to the Haw Creek preserve and walked the trail there through the swamp and thought it was great as well. I agree with Leann and think the county needs to do more on the west side. The $2MM figure is crazy high. Let the guy fix up the restaurant and give the county something they can used. Protect the neighborhoods, quit building multi-housing units.
Flagler County Long-Timer says
What’s missing from some of these conversations is the fact that you cannot get flood insurance on this property. At all. It’s ineligible for flood insurance. It’s not only flooded during Ian and Nicole, but during Matthew and Irma as well. Floods are more frequent, and it will be impossible for tax payers to keep up with it.
I have enjoyed corn fritters, low country boils, Independence Day celebrations there. It was the very first place I worked as a teen in the 90’s.
What Pennington is suggesting is not off the table: a solution for replacement. Building something new there may not be an option if it’s ineligible for insurance. It wouldn’t be prudent!
Right now is only the first step: demolishing a damaged building that is ineligible to even be insured if it were to be reconstructed.
There’s hasn’t yet been time to develop a plan for something that would work for the community, for the county, and for local businesses interested (including the most recent tenant). Pennington just reiterated the importance to ensuring a plan, whether it be food trucks or a mobile pavilion of some sort.
Finally, the West County has real representation. Great idea, Commissioner Pennington. That park is several acres. Why not build a pavilion back off the water and put an RFP out for food trucks? The idea is certainly worth exploring.
As a resident out here, this is a small community. I remember during hurricane Matthew the crewman asked if there was nay place to eat out here. We said we has ONLY ONE PLACE. Bullscreek Fish camp. This is the only established restaurant out here. Everyone goes there. Then during the fishing tournaments they fishermen and campers utilize the restaurant. Very sad this cannot be replaced. An icon gone forever. They are spending thousand on White Oak predominantly to go to that area and now there is no reason for this paved road. All this money spent on a road that leads to no where. I say rebuild the restaurant on stilts with a beautiful pier. Make it a place for tourism. This lake is not land locked so much potential. Make Flagler County Great Again 👍
JOE D says
Rebuilding with elevations which might get flood insurance should be explored BEFORE the wrecking ball is scheduled. Preserving a piece of local history, should always be an important consideration….even if the rebuild is significant…..as a former HISTORIC BALTIMORE resident….many derelict properties have been saved by establishing a non-profit preservation group (can we say: “Friends of BULL CREEK”)….thoughts anyone?!