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Fort Walton Beach Legal Blog

Companies plan to build senior living facility

The Fort Walton Beach area of Florida continues to see substantial construction activity as two more developers in the state have announced new plans to build a senior living facility in the region. The St. Joe Co. issued a press release together with the Watercrest Senior Living Group, saying that they plan to open a complex with 107 units near U.S. Highway 98 on St. Joe Island. When completed, the complex will have 75 assisted living units and 32 memory care units. St. Joe will retain majority ownership in the development while Watercrest will be responsible for managing operations.

The project is expected to begin construction in 2019 with building and design completed and ready to accept residents by the end of 2020. A Watercrest executive described the proposed project as a luxury community that would offer world-class healthcare and services.

New building looks to help develop Florida firefighters

The South Walton Fire District is getting a new training facility that will be located behind the current fire station. The main purposes of the new building are to store equipment used by the fleet and to train firefighters. According to a support representative from the fire department, each room in the structure will feature a different setting. This will allow trainees to get experience in a diverse array of conditions.

It will also be possible to filter smoke into the room as well as create other obstacles that firefighters could encounter while handling a real blaze. It is likely that members of the squad will be training on a daily basis in the facility. Currently, the nearest training facility is at Gulf Coast State College and Northwest Florida State College. As it is 30 miles away, emergency personnel are limited in their training time according to a member of the department.

Managing cash flow as a contractor

Contractors in Florida may find that they have problems managing cash flow as the construction sector has recently seen significant growth. Typically, a subcontractor will bill the general contractor once a month. Once the general contractor receives bills from the subcontractors, a single invoice is sent to the owner of the property. From there, it could take up to 60 days for the owner to make a payment.

This lack of timely payment may result in squabbling between the different parties involved with a project. Cash flow issues can be especially prevalent in situations when companies take on additional projects since they usually must fund operations on their own up front. Contractors generally have to finance operations because of the way the construction industry changed during the financial crisis. Prior to that time, contractors would generally get money to pay for materials before the job started.

Governor considers changing building codes in panhandle

The homes and businesses across much of Florida are built from a heartier stock than most of the rest of the country. It is not a secret that our state is one of the most prone to hurricanes. As a result, lawmakers have created stringent building codes to keep people safe and structures standing.

However, the strict standards buildings in south Florida are held to have not always extend to the northern part of the state. This became painfully evident as Hurricane Michael tore through the panhandle recently. The devastation left in its wake prompted Governor Rick Scott to consider changes that could be made to building codes.

Renovation project brings new life to historic structure

Fort Walton Beach continues to be home to a number of construction projects, with renovations to the Gulfview Hotel expected to be completed by early February 2019. The historic hotel began the project in August 2018, transitioning to become a tourist welcome center for the Okaloosa County development department. The two-story building which dates back 112 years will also be home to a retail store featuring local products operated by the local chamber of commerce. It will include other attractions as well including the Billy Bowlegs Museum and leased meeting and office space.

The Gulfview Hotel is the oldest building in Fort Walton Beach, originally constructed as a hunting and fishing lodge in 1906. It operated as a hotel for over 70 years, from 1913 to 1986. Town officials and experts noted that the building remained structurally sound in many ways but required modern construction techniques to refit it for new purposes. The structure was strong enough to withstand a total move; the entire hotel was moved down Miracle Strip Parkway to a new location.

Fort Walton Beach technology park could receive upgrades

As construction projects continue to rise in Fort Walton Beach, a local business park could soon be in for improvements. The Fort Walton Beach Commerce and Technology Park wants to set up a business improvement district or Community Redevelopment Agency at the park to generate funds to support improvements to the area. According to the city manager, this kind of agency could fund retrofitting the technology park's buildings to come into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, the funds could also support the construction of dormitories at the site to serve the tech workers employed there.

The city manager noted that additional funds could come forward to support construction efforts, including the potential revenue generated by an Okaloosa County half-cent sales tax. Voters approved the sales-tax assessments in the Nov. 6 elections. The technology park is already home to around 70 businesses, ranging in size from small local businesses to major national corporations like Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

New beauty store adds to retail renaissance in Fort Walton Beach

Commercial development projects continue to rise in Fort Walton Beach with the opening of an Ulta Beauty store near Uptown Station. The cosmetics store and salon, a branch of a national chain, opened on Oct. 26 after a several-month period in which the facility was under construction. A spokesperson for the chain said that the store carries 500 brands and 20,000 different products as a major national beauty marketer.

Ulta is only the latest tenant in the Uptown Station shopping center. Five Below, a clothing chain, also recently opened a retail store in the development. Shopping center representatives said that they hoped the new tenants would continue to revitalize retail development in the area. The center said that two existing tenants relocated their stores to other parts of the outdoor mall to allow room for the construction of the larger store. While there have been concerns raised about the viability of retail outlets with the rise of online shopping, beauty stores like Ulta and competitor Sephora have continued to see strong in-store sales. Because cosmetics chains allow customers to try makeup on in person, they offer opportunities that online sales do not.

When is a condo dog just a dog?

Condominium associations must sometimes take on the role of Solomon to decide what is fair against the letter of the law spelled out in the condo covenants.

This is the situation that Environ Towers I Condominium Association of Lauderhill, Florida finds itself after denying a resident’s request for a support animal.

Contractor's liens and construction law

Contractors or subcontractors in Florida who have performed work on a construction project but have not been paid may file a claim known as a contractor's lien. Paying invoices sent by contractors on time is the best way to avoid a contractor's lien. If a contractor successfully files a lien against a property, the contractor will be paid from any proceeds that are obtained when the property is sold.

When work is completed and paid for, releases or waivers of liens should be obtained from all subcontractors. Without these waivers, the property may be subject to liens when the property is sold even if a contractor who was paid for the work failed to pay subcontractors on the job after completion of the work.

Florida developer accused of violating EB-5 visa rules

A group of investors claims that a Florida real estate developer abused the EB-5 investor program and bilked them out of millions in a lawsuit filed on Oct. 11 in Palm Beach County. The 90 Chinese plaintiffs are hoping to recover some of their $99.5 million investment in a Jupiter mixed-use real estate development. EB-5 visa holders are promised expedited green card processing when they invest between $500,000 and $1 million in qualified projects. However, their investment does not guarantee that their applications will be successful.

The lawsuit claims that the developer went beyond the scope of the offering documents to take out a series of loans and lines of credit that he then intentionally defaulted on. The developer is also alleged to have converted the Chinese investment from secured debt to unsecured equity. The plaintiffs say that the ultimate goal of these actions was to wipe them out and leave them with nothing. The lawsuit suggests that the developer was able to accomplish his goals because he exerted almost complete control over the project and even influenced decisions made at the EB-5 regional center.

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