County picks BassPro to develop Okee-Tantie

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners on Thursday unanimously voted to start negotiations with BassPro for development of the Okee-Tantie recreation area.

County administrator Robbie Chartier said the county received proposals from Guy Harvey Outdoors and BassPro to develop Okee-Tantie. The proposals were reviewed by a committee appointed by the county commission.

She said the two concepts for the Okee-Tantie property are different. The Guy Harvey plan would develop Okee-Tantie as an RV park and sell RV lots on the property. The BassPro plan would develop the property as a resort.

She said both companies have national brand recognition.

Guy Harvey followed the county’s Request For Proposal (RFP) and provided the information requested.

BassPro did not provide details about their plan for the site. Instead, BassPro provided information about the company and about their other resorts.

Mrs. Chartier said the committee felt BassPro resort concept would be perceived more as a destination, as opposed to the RV park concept proposed by Guy Harvey.

Total investment by BassPro is undetermined. Guy Harvey indicated they intend to invest $19 million in the first phase and about $20 million in the second phase.

BassPro offered to pay the county $3 million, with $300,000 paid up front. BassPro then would have 9 months to develop plans for the site. If after 9 months, BassPro determines the project is not viable, the county would keep the $300,000.

Guy Harvey’s plan would start with a lease for up to 48 months, at a rate of $1/year, followed by payments of $550,000 when the first phase was completed, and $550,000 when the second phase was completed up at up to 60 months. The county would also receive 1 percent of park receipts, with the rate increasing at half a percent every 5 years, for a max of the county receiving 5 percent of park receipts.

The committee ranked BassPro first and recommended the county enter into an agreement with BassPro to develop Okee-Tantie.

“Both obviously are good companies,” said Commissioner Bryant Culpepper. He noted Okee-Tantie is on freshwater, and he thought BassPro has the advantage since Guy Harvey is known primarily for facilities on salt water.

He recommended pursuing an agreement with BassPro.

Bradley Goodbread said he was pleased the two world-renowned companies were interested in doing business in Okeechobee County. He thanked both companies for their efforts.

He made a motion to accept the recommendation to proceed with a development agreement with BassPro.

Commissioner Kelly Owens said the county should be clear that Scott Driver park is not part of the agreement. The Guy Harvey proposal included optional plans for Scott Driver park.

County attorney John Cassels said Scott Driver park was not part of the RFP.

Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs said the county spent $525,000 in order to secure the right from the state to sell the property. He said they have to take that expense into consideration.

He said if BassPro builds the Okee-Tantie project to the level of their other resorts, it will be something Okeechobee County will be proud of.

Commissioner Owens also noted there is some confusion in the community. She said they need to make it clear that BassPro is proposing a resort at Okee-Tantie, not a retail store.

In other business at the June 22 meeting, Libby Pigman of the South Florida Water Management District, said a Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project will be held Friday, June 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the South Florida Water Management District office in Okeechobee. She said at the last meeting, that committee eliminated the deep well injection option from their plans. If they take the deep well injection option off the table, it could mean that in a heavy rain year they will have to either raise the lake level or release water to the estuaries, she said. The meeting is open to the public.

Link to the Okee-Tantie proposals is below or click here.

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