Gulf of Mexico
High-rise buildings along Navarre Beach on Monday, May 22, 2023. Gregg Pachkowski /

FL - Navarre Beach plans went from RVs to condos. Here's what we know

About a year after county commissioners twice rejected a proposal by land owner Christopher Ferrara to build what he called a "high end" RV park on Navarre Beach, they appear to be forced to accept a much larger and more problematic development that includes three 16-story buildings on the sound side.

Additionally, a limited liability company called Navarre Beach Hotels is prepared to move forward with construction of a 200-room hotel and 34 condominium units on the Gulf side of the barrier island.

What developments are proposed on Navarre Beach?

Port Navarre, by far the largest of the two projects, will have added three 16-story buildings to the Navarre Beach landscape. Each will hold 220 condominium/hotel units, for a total of 660, and provide 87 underground parking stalls. The complex will be located on the Sound side of the barrier island.

On the Gulf side, a limited liability company called Navarre Beach Hotels is prepared to move forward with construction of a 200-room hotel and 34 condominium units.

What high rise condominiums already exist on Navarre Beach?

Santa Rosa County Property Appraiser records show that the first condominium opened on Navarre Beach was Bahama Bay in 1965. Another approximately 30 have been built since that time.

Only about seven of those, however, can truly be considered "high rise" condominiums, which by Pensacola News Journal criteria would be a condo unit of 10 stories or more.

The 11-story Navarre Towers, built in 1984, is the oldest of the Navarre Beach high rises and Beach Colony Resort, built in 2009, is the youngest. Beach Colony Resort also holds the distinction of being the only condominium of 10 stories or greater to have been built since Hurricane Ivan wreaked havoc on all of the structures residing on the barrier island.

Belmer Condominiums were built in 1997, and Caribbean Resort soon followed in 1999.

The three Summerwind towers closest to the Navarre Pier went up at the same time and were still new when Ivan came through in 2004. Summerwind, along with the Inn at Summerwind, opened in 2000, according to county records. Summerwind West opened in 2003.

When the three 16-story towers that will comprise Port Navarre are completed they will be the first high-rise condominiums constructed on the Santa Rosa Sound side of Navarre Beach, as opposed to the Gulf of Mexico side.

Springhill Suites Hotel can also be considered a Navarre Beach high rise and another structure 10-story structure, Sundunes, appears to have been built too far west on Gulf Boulevard to have made the Property Appraiser's Navarre Beach condominium list.

Why condominiums and not RV park?

Christopher Ferrara, based in Louisiana, is the owner of the 23 acres upon which Port Navarre will be developed. He bought the property in 1997 for $3.2 million.

More than a decade later, Ferrara requested the county grant him an amendment to his lease that would allow for construction of an RV Park. He argued that the "high end" park that would support approximately 150 visitors would bring value to Navarre Beach and prove to be less impactful than condominiums, which he was already approved under his lease to develop.

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