Okee-Tantie development budget grows

OKEECHOBEE — Guy Harvey Outpost and Elite Resorts plan to invest $37.5 million in the campground and marina

The project budget for redevelopment of the Okee-Tantie Recreation Area and Marina by Elite Resorts and Guy Harvey Outpost, has grown from $19 million to $37.5 million.

At the Dec. 17 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commission, Ed Mayer, Elite Resorts and Mark Ellert, Guy Harvey Outpost provided the board with a report on their due diligence process over the past five months and gave the board the opportunity to ask questions or make suggestions.

Mr. Ellert said that after reviewing the existing utility lines they determined that “everything must go.”

“Our intention is to rip everything out and start over,” he said. The first step will be to cap off and remove existing utilities.

Budget is now an estimated $37.5 million total, including $11.5 million for site work and utilities.

This is the concept plan for the development of Okee-Tantie in Okeechobee, Fla., that was approved by Okeechobee County Commissioners at their July 9, 2015 meeting. The property will be leased from the county and developed into a marina and campground through Elite Resorts Managers LLC and Guy Harvey Outpost.

This is the concept plan for the development of Okee-Tantie in Okeechobee, Fla., that was approved by Okeechobee County Commissioners at their July 9, 2015 meeting. The property will be leased from the county and developed into a marina and campground through Elite Resorts Managers LLC and Guy Harvey Outpost.

They are hoping to open the marina on July 4, 2017 with lodging to open January 2018.
“Progress to date has mostly been in the planning area,” said Mr. Ellert.

He said meetings with South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are expected to begin in earnest in January.

“Travel with a purpose is our tag line,” he said. They want to turn Okee-Tantie into a world class destination resort.

“The concept continues to be a two-project concept with a resort component oriented around the river and an RV campground component that is oriented toward the lake,” said Mr. Ellert.

“Our intention is to convert the current restaurant to an outfitter shop,” he said. This will be where charters will be booked.

“We will be building a new fuel dock on the north side of the marina basin,” he said.

The marina area will include a tiki bar.

They also plan to expand the marina dock from about 40 slips to about 80 slips. Plans also call to add a boat barn, with space for 38 boats in the first phase.

“The river resort section will be the core of the resort experience,” Mr. Ellert continued. The feature piece will be a 20,000 sq. ft. Lodge complex including a water front restaurant, splash pads and lazy pool experience.

A sports club will include shuffleboard, pickleball, tennis and half court basketball.

The old bait and tackle store will be gutted to become a kids club for youth activities.

An observation tower will be built on the south end of the resort.

County Commissioner Terry Burroughs asked about plans for wastewater treatment. Mr. Mayer said they are working with OUA director John Hayford on the options. The current wastewater treatment plant is antiquated and does not meet the future capacity needs of the park, but Mr. Mayer said they believe a new treatment plant can be installed in the same footprint.

“What about the airboats?” asked County Commissioner Margaret Helton.

Mr. Ellert said the Outpost is pursuing a dialog with Glades County to develop the Indian Prairie campground for airboats. He said this is about 6 to 7 miles down the road, so it is not a perfect solution.

“It’s of course not as convenient,” he said. He added at Indian Prairie, the airboats would launch in a marsh area and would not have to cross the deep channel of the Kissimmee River to get to the marshes.

Okeechobee County staff has also been working with Florida Department of Environmental Protection on another location for the airboaters in the area northeast of Okee-Tantie. The road would come off SR 78 west, east of the entrance to Okee-Tantie. This would provide a facility for airboaters to pull down, turn around, unload their airboats, pull up and park.
Under a 50-year lease agreement with the county, with an option for a 49-year extension, Elite Resorts and Guy Harvey Outpost plans to invest $37.5 million in the Okee-Tantie development.

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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