Where the parking lot used to be for the Hut Restaurant, which was hopping up until 2005 when Hurricane Dennis pushed a big chunk of it into the bay, nothing’s been there ever since, except junked cars that had to be cleared out, and an occasional food truck.
But now giant piles of dirt and construction debris speak to the infrastructure improvements happening on the western end of Apalachicola.
The Florida Department of Transportation is repaving US 98 from 12th Street out to Tilton Road, a stretch that goes past Buddy Ward Seafood Park and the airport, up to the Box-R Ranch.
“As part of the repaving, they’ll do drainage work, replacing a lot of pipes and stormwater culverts with reinforced concrete pipes,” said County Planner Mark Curenton.
A sidewalk’s going in on the north side of the highway, from The Prado past a neighborhood to Ace Hardware, which is bustling these days. As is the Family Dollar, and they, as always, is looking for help.
The Gulfside IGA alongside it, also off 26th Street, it is not hiring, because it’s been closed since January, after remaining open, but struggling to hang on, since Hurricane Michael.
That Oct. 2018 storm knocked out the Burger King, the only free-standing fast food place in the county, which fronts the highway.
It looks like it’s coming back.
Curenton said he had talks on the telephone a few weeks ago with Jack Husbands, with Southeastern Consulting Engineers, Inc. out of Wewahitchka, together with a Georgia-based contractor that does a lot of work for Burger King.
“They said they’re very interested in getting back up and open and running,” Curenton said. “They asked what they would need to do to get the thing back up and running, and in compliance with flood zone regulations.”
Because the zone is AE, the finished floor of the building has to be at base flood elevation, plus one foot higher, he said.
“When this thing was built about 30 years ago, they complied with requirements, but they have since changed and I believe that this is no longer the case,” Curenton said. “The finished floor is no longer above base flood elevations.”
The site elevations remain grandfathered in, provided that the damages do not exceed half the value of the existing building.
“If the damage
is to more than 50 percent of the value of the existing building, you have to
be in compliance,” he said.
That would mean the finished floor would have to be a 14 feet above sea level or higher.
“Their plan is to do the existing building there, to repair the existing building,” Curenton said. “It appears that they will be able to do that (as) the damage is not such that it will be more than 50 percent.”
To calculate the damage, the value of about $322,000 for the building, prior to the hurricane, is used. In the two years following the storm, the building’s value has sunk to about $116,000. In addition, the value of the 1.2 acres of land has dropped from close to $38,000 to about $29,500.
The building and property was purchased for $600,000 in 1999 by Applefield Nine Family Limited Partnership, now based in Dothan, Alabama.