FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — The Northwest Florida Fairgrounds is under a $4 million contract between the City of Fort Walton Beach and the Okaloosa County Government.
The City Council once spoke about making the land surplus and selling the property. The community and the County staff approached the city to keep it as public use for multiple events that take place at the fairgrounds each year.
- The property is located off Lewis Turner Boulevard, near the south County courthouse facility
The City Council approved the sale to Okaloosa Co. on March 14 with some stipulations in place.
The sale includes 20.3 acres of the Northwest Florida Fairgrounds from the City to the County.
The contract promises a 20-year obligation to keep the property in public use and prohibits selling it unless approved by the City Council. The County can not attempt to sell the land until the 20 years is up.
The County said they also have a general obligation to allow the existing uses and events to continue, such as the fair and conventions with the goal of enhancing and improving the facility for events as well as being utilized as a staging area for first responders in the event of emergencies or crisis situations.
The County is looking at making improvements to the structure over time while keeping the current users on board for at least 5 years.
The city also got a piece of the pie in the sale. The agreement includes the sale of .42 acres of County owned property in that area to the City which includes the City’s fire training tower and an area leased to Harley Davidson for use as a driving course.
Since tourism works for Okaloosa and voters approved expanding the bed tax district in 2021, the County is using $4,050,000 of tourism bed tax revenue for this transaction. The sale is expected to close within 120 days.