Thursday, October 28, 2010
September 08, 2010 8:47 AM
Brian Hughes and Michael Stewart Crestview News Bulletin
After five years of planning, work will soon begin on the 254-unit Spring Creek Apartments in Crestview. Construction is expected to start within 60 days, with an October 2011 completion date, developers said. Some units will be available for rent in May 2011, in advance of the official arrival of the 7th Special Forces and the military unit’s families. The entrance to the development will be located at the site of the former Shamrock Bingo Hall on West James Lee Boulevard, with the apartments to be built north of that location. The project’s partners, Southern Boys Development Group, which includes former Atlanta Braves baseball pitcher John Rocker, Doug Williams, Brian Willis and Chris Moore, have been working on the complex since 2005. “Southern Boys Development Group recognized Crestview as an underserved market in need of additional housing to support the thousands of enlisted and civilian personnel to be employed at Eglin Air Force Base,” a company press release states. Rocker said the complex will also be close to Florida A&M University’s new pharmacy school, to be located in the historical Alatex Building once renovations there are complete. Last Thursday, developers for the long-awaited apartment complex gathered at the entrance site for the official groundbreaking.
“I never thought this day would come,” Rocker said. “We had a lot of obstacles to overcome.”
Plans call for 10 buildings. Residents will have access to a swimming pool, a playground, a walking trail and a clubhouse that will feature a fitness room, business center and gathering space. Southern Boys has hired Charleston, S.C.-based Greystar, the nation’s third largest property management company, with more than 166,000 units in 80 markets, to run the complex. Rocker described the development as “upscale.” Greystar Senior Director Tracy Bowers said some of the one, two and three-bedroom units will be reserved for lower income renters. Bowers does not predict that the downturn in the economy will affect their ability to rent the units. Leasing will coincide with an upturn foreseen for the local real estate economy, she said. “If it had come out of the ground two years ago, it would’ve been much harder,” Bowers said. “This is a great time to be trying to lease-up ahead of the curve,” Greystar’s Jeff Kaloupek said. The project has had some setbacks, including the July 2008 pullout of a major equity partner, which forced the partners to start over from scratch. “You stuck with it all the way,” Crestview Mayor David Cadle said at the groundbreaking. “That’s the kind of entrepreneur we want in the city of Crestview.” Okaloosa County Commissioner Wayne Harris agreed. “I have to credit John and the Southern Boys for staying with this,” Harris said.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
By DUSTY RICKETTS
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448 email@example.com
FORTWALTONBEACH — As a registered Republican, local entrepreneur Paul Hsu did not expect the Obama administration to ask him to join a national advisory board. However, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke on Monday appointed Hsu , t h e chairman of the green technology firm Hsu Enterprise Group, to the new National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise. “It’s quite an honor,” Hsu said. “This is the first time they reached over the party lines. Everyone knows I’m a Republican, but it really is indeed an honor to serve with him on something that touches my heart, the eco - nomic recovery and job creation.” Hsu is a native of Taiwan who came to the United States after graduating from college in Taipei, Taiwan. He was a software engineer who co-founded MTI in 1984 and sold the company 20 years later to MTC. Hsu was appointed to a two-year term on the advisory council. The g r o u p w i l l d e v e l o p strategies and policies to position minorityowned firms to compete in the global economy. Hsu said he plans to concentrate on world trade and ways to grow manufacturing in the United States. In the past 10 years, the country has lost 3 million manufacturing jobs, or about 20 percent of the nation’s entire manufacturing force, he said. Hsu wants to bring those jobs back and not lose them to developing countries. “I think minority business development is at the very front burner under the Obama administration,” Hsu said. “This definitely gets his attention. I think the few meetings will take place in the White House. I don’t know if he will participate, but I think he will. He wants to know how we will develop the minority business. This is really, really, really to his heart, and I know that. “But to me, either minority or nonminority, small business is small business,” Hsu added. “If we create jobs, it doesn’t matter if it’s a white business or a minority business.” Hsu previously served on President George W. Bush’s President’s Export Council. He represented the president on several trips to China.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Freddie Mac reports that the average interest on 30-year fixed mortgages slipped to an all-time low, for the third consecutive week, to 4.19 percent. At the same time, 15-year fixed-rate loans and the five-year adjustable-mortgage rate both also hit record lows. Rates on the former were 3.62 percent, while the latter averaged just 3.47 percent.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, Nathan Becker (10/15/10)
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Author: Ken Wright
Realtor RE/MAX Southern Realty
Vice President of Northwest Florida Military Officer’s Association
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
The below is information compiled by the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County (http://www.florida-edc.org/is_okaloosa.htm), which will help illustrate the need for housing in Okaloosa County. As a native to this area, retired military officer, former Military Housing Director for the Southeast United States, and Vice President of the Northwest Florida Military Officer’s Association, I have the privilege of being a part of and have an understanding of the needs associated with the military regarding the movements of military units and the needs associated with the moves.
The basics of this challenge are a very high demand and low supply of quality housing for the movement of troops associated with this move. Factors which have placed a major strain on housing needs have been:
1) The financial crisis, which put builders and developers in a precarious situation to find finding for construction
2) The mass destruction of inadequate on-base housing
3) Defense Contractors moving to the area to follow the Defense Contract needs
4) The normal migration of folks to Florida.
It has not been underscored enough. The BRAC 2005 decision triggered a number of other initiatives to move several other military programs to our area and programs associated with the Aerospace Industry. As the past Chairman of the Economic Development Council noted, with the military missions in our area which include training, operational, and testing, we are primed to be the Silicone Valley of the East Coast. As you will read on, you will begin to see the recipe for a major economic up turn in our area.
The University of West Florida Haas Center for Business Research FACTOIDS (Florida Defense Industry Economic Impact Analysis in January 2008).
· About 35% of Northwest Florida regional output is driven by defense spending;
o 18% for NE Florida
o 5% for Central Florida
o 3% for South Florida.
· Average earnings per military job in Florida are at 175% of average earnings across all Florida jobs.
· In 2005, average military earnings per job were $68,540 compared to an average of $39,990 for all Florida jobs.
· In Okaloosa County defense-related spending accounts for 73% of economic activity.
INFORMATION ON THE SURROUNDING MILITARY INSTALLATIONS:
Eglin Air Force Base, the Air Armament Center (AAC), belongs to the Air Force Materiel Command and is responsible for development, acquisition, testing, deployment and sustainment of all air-delivered weapons. Eglin's range supports training activities for numerous operational military units, military schools, and various federal agencies. These training activities are conducted on an individual, group, or joint operations basis. Eglin AFB supports Army and Navy units. 62 major organizations resided at Eglin.
Eglin AFB occupies 463,128 acres across Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton Counties.
Eglin AFB, the largest military installation in the Department of Defense
· More than 724 square miles of land area
· More than 134,000 square miles of airspace
· More than 123,000 square miles of water ranges in the Gulf of Mexico
2009 Installation Statistics
Buildings Square Feet 12,105,930
Main Base Acres 11,270
Complete Acreage 463,067
Active Duty Military 7,928
Eglin's technically sophisticated facilities and its massive land-water test range complex make it an invaluable asset to the Air Force mission and to the economic development of Okaloosa's community.
In FY 07 Eglin AFB
Created 12,900 non-active duty military jobs in the local community
Had a $1.5B impact on the economic area
Had 15,125 military family members associated
Supported approximately 41,000 retired military members in the local area
Eglin AFB is a leader in Expeditionary Combat Support with the 2nd largest deployment tasking in the Air Force and the largest deployment commitment in the Air Force Materiel Command. Eglin has the Air Force’s largest transportation function in the Continental United States. Eglin also hosts the only Ground Combat Training capability in the Air Force Materiel Commend – 1 of 4 in the Air Force.
In addition to the military testing, training, development and research that Eglin specializes in, Eglin is also a successful environmental conservation steward for their undeveloped land reservation. Recreational activities are permitted on the reservation where the successes of their environmental care can be seen in plant and animal life.
BRAC ImpactAs a result of the 2005 BRAC Commission, the US Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) will move from Ft. Bragg, NC to Eglin AFB. The influx of personnel will be in 2011 with approximately 2,200 soldiers and 3,867 dependents. The location of the new Army post will be in the north county area South of Interstate 10, West of Duke Field.
Also coming in to Eglin AFB is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Initial Training Center (ITC).
Arriving in 2010:
1) 59 aircraft
2) 1,563 personnel
3) 1,714 dependents will begin arriving in 2010.
Anticipated BRAC Realignment Impacts:(These figures may change)
· To occur between FY09 and FY15
· MILCON to exceed $735M
· 3,763 additional military personnel
· 87% Enlisted
· 12% Officers
· 1% Civilians
· 5,581 dependents
A total increase in population of 9,344 is expected by 2016.
Hurlburt Field is the headquarters of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), the Air Force component of U.S. Special Operations Command; and the 1st Special Operations Wing, AFSOC's oldest and largest unit. AFSOC's mission is to provide Air Force special operations forces for worldwide deployment in the conduct of the War on Terrorism in order to disrupt, defeat, and destroy terrorist networks that threaten the United States, its citizens, and interests worldwide. Responsibilities are to provide aerospace surface interface, agile combat support, combat aviation advisory operations, information warfare, personnel recovery and rescue operations, precision aerospace fires, psychological operations, specialized aerospace mobility and specialized refueling to unified commands.
Hurlburt Field is located in the southern portion of the Eglin reservation in Okaloosa County occupying 6,634 acres.
2008 Installation Statistics
Buildings Square Feet 5.2 Million
Active Duty 8,206
Active Duty Dependents 10,782
BRAC ImpactAs a result of the 2005 BRAC Commission, Hurlburt Field relocated approximately 1,000 personnel to Cannon AFB.
For additional BRAC information visit the Defense Support Initiative page.
Duke Field is home to the 919th Special Operations Wing, the only special operations unit in the Air Force Reserve. The 919th SOW reports to the Air Force Reserve Command's Tenth Air Force in peacetime, and becomes part of AFSOC at Hurlburt Field if mobilized for conflict.
Duke Field is located within the northern section of Eglin's reservation and employs 1,200 reservists and 300 full-time civil service personnel.
Duke's total economic impact in the community is estimated at $51 million annually.
Okaloosa supports three military installations, Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, and Duke Field, collectively on the largest base in the world; Eglin Air Force Base. These three installations are known as the Eglin Complex.
The overall defense economic impact in Okaloosa County is over $6,000,000,000 annually!
The State of Florida's economic impact is $52 billion and is anticipated to exceed $59 billion by 2010.
MILITARY HOUSING IN THE AREA
In 2008, Eglin AFB and Hurlburt Field engaged in their housing privatization initiative which will demolish 2,257 housing units with a planned rebuild of only 960. This demolishing of this housing has begun and will put an approximately 1297 military families into the community housing market.
CRESTVIEW INDUSTRIAL AIRPARK, A.K.A. BOB SIKES AIRPORT
This industrial airpark is the nucleolus for the Okaloosa-Crestview Enterprise Zone; created to facilitate economic revitalization.
360 acres in the Northern section of Okaloosa County, three miles Northeast of the City of Crestview, near Interstate 10. Bob Sikes Airport offers general aviation, private use and is located within an Enterprise Zone.
Site Size Available:
As needed. There are primes sites and large parcels available for development within the airport boundaries.
Cleared area of 290 acres with an elevation range from 160-240 feet. Bob Sikes Airport offers a 8,000 foot runway, with a 2,000 foot planned expansion. The airpark offers complete airport facilities capable of handling large airliners, taxiways to and from surrounding properties, and adjacent land for aviation related companies.
BAE Systems, Bay State Cable Ties, Copy Products Company, Custom Production, Inc., EJM Aerospace Services Inc., Emerald Coast Aviation, Gulf Coast Industrial Machine, Ideal Aviation, Inc., L-3 Communications/Crestview Aerospace, National Electronics Warranty (NEW), Prime Source Electrical & Manufacturing, Satellites Unlimited Inc., Summit Park, Sunshine Aero Industries, Inc.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
October 12, 2010 5:50 PM
When a Volga-Dnepr airlines Antonov An-124 landed at Crestview’s Bob Sikes Airport around 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 7, it did much more than drop off a hush-hush cargo for one of the airport’s defense contractor tenants. It demonstrated to a world aviation audience the local airport’s abilities to accommodate the world’s biggest aircraft. “What this means to our community is access to the world,” Okaloosa County Airports Director Bob Donovan said. “Once you get on the radar with international operators, that’s proof of our abilities here in Crestview.” The Russian-made and Russian-crewed four-engine cargo jet, described by airport officials as the world’s third-largest aircraft, was in town only about 13 hours before departing shortly after sunrise Friday morning. The mission had been in the planning stage for more than eight months.
“What it does is prove the viability of having such a long runway and a good airfield,” Donovan said. The massive An-124, supported on the ground by 10 sets of dual wheels in its center landing gear and two sets of two wheels each forward, is surpassed in size only by the Airbus A380 and the Antonov’s larger sister, the six-engine An-224. The plane that landed at Crestview is one of 10 An-124’s owned by Volga-Dnepr’s cargo arm. Its cavernous cargo bay is so huge it can easily carry other aircraft. “They have hauled trains in those,” said Brad Hall, Emerald Coast Aviation’s vice president and director of maintenance. “It’s a very neat airplane.”
While the airport’s taxiways proved a little tight for such a large plane, Emerald Coast, the airport’s fixed-base operator, was on hand to help the plane into position at L3 Crestview Aerospace’s parking strip. Driving a 53,000 - pound aircraft “tug,” Hall neatly guided the An-124 off the runway Thursday night and into position for take-off Friday morning. The airport is addressing the taxiway’s tight radiuses, Donovan said. “We’re working very hard with the FAA and the FDOT to get the funding necessary to rebuild some of the taxiways so the aircraft can taxi on its own power,” Donovan said. “But the runway can accommodate the world’s largest aircraft.” After the An-124 took off Friday morning, Hall, Emerald Coast lead mechanic Bob Kilbourne and airframe and power plant mechanic Mace Livingston joined their boss, Emerald Coast Aviation President Jonathan Dunn, for celebratory sausage biscuits and coffee back at their office. Livingston, who had assisted Hall in the tug, compared the scale of the Antonov to the planes he typically services. “After you’ve towed the third-largest aircraft in the world at 6:30 in the morning, working on a Cessna 150 is going to be a let-down,” joked Livingston. “It’s pretty much the tiniest aircraft out here.” Hall said pushing and pulling the cargo jet with the tiny tug was an adrenaline rush. “It was pretty awesome!” he said. “It was enormous. To tow something and move something that weighs that much was neat. I hope we get to do it again.”
Dunn said the nearly nine months of planning for the Antonov’s visit was worth it. “Well, nine months, no sleep for a week, lost 20 pounds — I’ll try to do it again next week,” he laughed. “They’re moving one from Houston to Ghana next week and want to do a fuel stop in Birmingham. I’m trying to persuade them to come here.”
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
‘The future is here’
NWF will rebound from recession faster than rest of country, economist says
By DUSTY RICKETTS
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448 firstname.lastname@example.org
SANDESTIN — While Northwest Florida felt the effects of the economic recession sooner than most of the country, the region is poised to have one of the strongest recoveries. Gulf Power’s Economic Symposium returned for its 14th year Tuesday. It attracted speakers from around the state and nation to discuss the best way Northwest Florida can rebound from the recession and the BP oil spill. One of the returning speakers was Rick Harper, director of the Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development at the University of West Florida. He said the three major industries in the region — the military, tourism and health care — are all strong and poised to grow. “We’ve always grown faster than the rest of the nation,” Harper said. “The only reason we sometimes think of ourselves as slower in this area is because Florida is usually faster than we are. But in Northwest Florida, projections are we’re going to reverse that and become faster than the rest of the country, certainly the rest of the Southeast.” H a r p e r ’ s a s s e s s - ment that the region will rebound from the recession quicker than other parts of Florida is backed up by other data. Woods & Poole Economics Inc., a Washington, D.C.,-based firm that specializes in long-term county economic and demographic projections, recently completed its forecast for the rest of the year and highlighted Northwest Florida’s potential. Harper said the Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the Joint Strike Fighter program coming to Eglin Air Force Base will have immediate and long-term benefits. He said the region hit its economic high after Hurricane Ivan before other parts of the country, but started to drop much sooner than other areas. Home prices did drop more substantially in Florida than in other parts of the United States, but that has made Northwest Florida more price competitive with the rest of the country than it had been during the housing boom, Harper said. The good news is that the area also is coming out of the recession a little bit sooner, he said. “The future is here in Northwest Florida,” Harper said.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Eglin's futures is bright. The front page headline of today's paper. A fact, which I have been letting my reader's know, for quite some time. If you haven't been following the specifics, go back to my previous Blog entries of the past and they are outlined. It does still amaze me, I am still hearing from bankers and others say, "I don't know if the we will get all this growth being talked about, the government might change its mind". WELL WAKE UP!!! It is here and ahead of schedule. We have been lucky with no hurricanes, which has allowed the Prime Contractor to get ahead of schedule on the Army Base. Again, I will underscore it, "MILITARY BUDGET CUTS MAKE EGLIN ATTRACTIVE". Why??? Future warfare is, RAPID DEPLOYMENT and SMART AND ADVANCE WEAPONS. Guess what. EGLIN IS IN THE MIDDLE OF IT ALL. In conclusion, INVESTORS AND BANKERS, GET OUT OF YOUR OFFICE'S AND SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING AROUND THIS AREA. NOT WHAT YOU READ FROM THE NATIONAL NEWS PAPERS. Great success will be when Bankers, Investors, Developers, and Builders come together to meet this unprecident challenge which is upon us NOW!!!!
By MONA MOORE
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4443 email@example.com
EGLIN AFB — In a wartime era of budget cuts and closures, Eglin remains one of the busiest bases in the Department of Defense. The objective for the next decade is to keep it that way. With tenants that include the 46th Test Wing, the Air Force Special Operations Command and the country’s only special operations reserve unit, Eglin Air Force Base has played a vital role in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. “I think that they’re right in the middle of what the DOD’s looking for,” Okaloosa County Commissioner Bill Roberts said. Roberts is the commission’s liaison for the joint Land Use Study, BRAC, Defense Support Initiative and Economic Development Council. “Look at Hurlburt and Special Operations out of there, and that’s the way we’re fighting wars today,” Roberts said.
The BRAC impact:
The outcome of the 2006 Base Realignment and Closure favored Eglin. The base will lead the way in fifth-generation aircraft and joint integration of the forces with the BRAC additions.
The 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) will be Eglin’s second Army tenant. The Marines, Navy and Air Force also are working together in the Joint Strike Fighter Training School. “I’m excited about the future of Eglin Air Force Base,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. “Not only was Eglin chosen as the site for the Department of Defense’s new joint training center for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, they also just received a Special Operations forces unit from Fort Bragg. The addition of these new missions will have a lasting and positive impact on the local community.” The immediate impact is a boost in home sales and more students in local classrooms. By 2020, an additional 10,690 people will call Santa Rosa, Walton or Okaloosa County home as a result of BRAC, according to a 2007 study by the Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development at the University of Wet Florida. Jim Breitenfeld, a member of the Economic Development Council’s Defense Support Initiative, said Army families have been choosing to settle farther away from the 7th Special Forces’ cantonment west of Duke Field. Conversations with local realtors and developers have found an unexpected trend among those homebuyers. “Some of the initial thoughts were that … when they came, all of them were just going to plop down and settle into Crestview,” Breitenfeld said. “They ’re gonna spread out across the region. We’ve gotten reports that home sales to members of the 7th are really being spread … all the way from Navarre into Walton County.” The impact will be greater than a few new neighbors. The new residents will introduce a new dynamic to the area. Breitenfeld gave health care as an example. Because of the constant deployments and dangerous missions of the Special Forces, local hospitals will have to provide a different level of service to injured soldiers. “The hospitals and medical centers are working very closely with Eglin and that’ll be a benefit to the community, in a sense. It will probably raise the level of traumatic injury health care in the area,” Breitenfeld said. Breitenfeld is optimistic about the future, but recognizes some areas that may have a greater impact on the area than the population boom expected in the next decade. His three greatest concerns are the shrinking DoD budget, limited air space and the possibility of drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
A shrinking budget:
Rick Harper, director of the Haas center, said there are legitimate worries about the defense budget. “I think that all parts of the federal budget are going to be under pressure in the next several years because the budget deficit has to be reduced, which means that national defense expenditures are going to be under pressure,” Harper said. Jeff Fanto, growth project coordinator for Okaloosa County, said recent studies have shown that the county’s dependence on the military has been too great. He said he has seen figures as high as 73 percent of the workforce being tied to military. Recent studies have said Northwest Florida must seek ways to diversify its economy. How that can be done remains to be seen. “It doesn’t appear as though there’s anything on the immediate horizon. But I think that you certainly have to frame all of your thinking on what that budget might do over the next several years,” Breitenfeld said. “I think if the Air Force, in particular, lowered its level of support for new weapon development, then that could have an effect on Eglin.”
Okaloosa County’s success is closely tied to the success of Eglin. “Speaking as an economist, Eglin is the most important economic driver in Northwest Florida. The procurement spending that flows through the base every year is very large, relative to other parts of the economy,” Harper said. Eglin has been one of the top employers in the area since the 1930s. In 2005, the DoD spent more than $2.24 billion in Okaloosa County. The largest portion was from contracted services such as research and development, construction and maintenance. Another $627 million was spent on salaries and wages, according to the 2007 Haas study. About 27 percent of the state’s federal military and civilian personnel live in Okaloosa County, the Haas study said. Nearly 21,000 people (14 percent of the county’s workforce) works for the DoD. Breitenfeld said the number of people was not the most important factor. “You can have a lot of numbers at a military base, numbers of people and numbers of missions, but the economic impact in the community really is dependant upon the type of mission it is,” he said. “The high-tech research technical labor force that we have at Eglin really is what fuels the economic impact. It would be a different look if it were simply a training base.” The base’s technical fields generate the greatest income for the area, and Breitenfeld stressed the importance of fostering and supporting those fields. When new missions are proposed for Eglin, they cannot be at the expense of the high-paying research and development, acquisitions, testing and evaluation positions. The impact creeps into all facets of the community. The area’s quality of life is affected. Brietenheld noted education. “There are a number of reasons why the school systems in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton County traditionally are in the top three or four or five in the state. And a lot of that is the military,” Breitenfeld said. “You’ve got parents who come in with high expectations (and) you’ve got parents that are very involved in the school system that help set standards very high.”
Crowded air space has become an issue in the last decade as the area’s commercial, civilian and military aircraft have increased. One of the deciding factors in the number of F-35s Eglin will bed down was air space. “I think there’s a good handle on that. Eglin has led an initiative over the last couple of years to try to sort through that, and we expect to see some of the recommendations as early as December,” Breitenfeld said. The third area that would have an impact on the future is the training range over the gulf. Breitenfeld called it a national asset.
The oil spill disrupted Eglin’s testing and evaluation. The base could not test munitions with boats skimming oil. But some good may have come of the spill: It will influence the likelihood of new leases and opening up new areas for drilling. Breitenfeld said drilling and the military are not necessarily incompatible. As long as the drilling takes into account the military’s needs, both parties can work around restrictions. “The bottom line is we think the future of Eglin is very strong,” Breitenfeld said. “There are a few areas that I think people need to have some concern about.”
Friday, October 1, 2010
Waiting for Walmart
Ground could be broken soon for the store in South Walton
By ANGEL McCURDY
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4432 firstname.lastname@example.org
SANTA ROSA BEACH — Ground should be broken any day on the Walmart in South Walton County. The last of the fees have been paid and permits have been issued, said Buddy Wright, a county planner. He said the next phase will deal with the construction crews hired for the project. “The ball’s in their court,” Wright said. “They could start digging dirt tomorrow if they wanted to.” The new Walmart will be part of the larger Topsail West development near the intersection of U.S. Highway 98 and West Hewett Road. Construction of the 78,290-square-foot Walmart will be Phase I of the development. The St. Joe Co. has designated 116 acres for Topsail West. The development is proposed to include more than 308,000 square feet of retail space, 5,000 square feet of office space, 190 senior-living units, 110 assisted-living units and 310 multi-family units, according to previous reports. Topsail West is expected to be built in phases. The final phase is not expected to be completed until 2020. Michael Smith, project superintendent for TD Farrell Construction, said a surveyor must visit the property before construction begins. A trailer for the work crews also must be placed on the land, he said. “Everything is preliminary,” Smith said. “We’re plotting coordinates and getting ready to begin.” Smith said he expects construction will take less than eight months, based on his previous work for Walmart. “For now, we’re just working on getting the project started and we’ll see what happens,” Smith said.