Sebastian councilors weigh buying acres along the waterfront

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SEBASTIAN – Further evaluation will be required before the City Council can decide whether to bid to purchase 1.3 acres adjacent to Fisherman’s Landing along the working waterfront.

The council voted 4-1 on Wednesday for another assessment. Councilor Bob McPartland voted no.

“I’m a big fat no on this,” McPartlan said. “I don’t think we need to be in the real estate business.”

The waterfront property straddles both sides of Indian River Drive and is on the market for $2.9 million. The first appraisal obtained from the city was well below the asking price, prompting council members to request the second appraisal.

State law prohibits the city from disclosing this appraisal because it is already in negotiations and has an option to purchase the property.

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It is the prime location of the property that the city is interested in the property as it seeks to preserve as much of the waterfront as possible to protect it from investors. Many are concerned that the land could be developed into homes or condos, which could ruin water views along the riverfront.

There are also concerns about the fate of the Hurricane Harbor building, which houses Crab-E-Bill’s fish market. The council has already halted all further repairs to the city structure and announced it will not renew the fish market lease when it expires in 2024.

If the city can buy the adjacent lot, it would have extra land if it decides to demolish the old building and replace it with a new one. It would also expand the working waterfront, which requires additional dock space to support the fishing and aquaculture businesses along the river.

Vice Mayor Fred Jones said he believes the city should buy the land if the price is right.

“People come to Sebastian for the water views,” Jones said. “And that’s right next to Fisherman’s Landing and will add value to the city if the price is right.”

Councilor Ed Dodd said the property’s location next to the working bank is advantageous and the property across Indian River Drive could be resold to offset the purchase price.

“I think it’s an advantage for the City of Sebastian to buy this property,” Dodd said. But if the appraisal is still below the asking price, the city can try to negotiate. It can always go away, he said.

It’s not the only property the city is trying to sell. A few years ago, the city bought the derelict Harbor Lights Motel at the south end of Indian River Drive near the Main Street boat ramp.

The east side of the property overlooks the riverfront while the old motel on the west side is used for police training. When practice is complete, the city will demolish it, City Manager Paul Carlisle said. However, it will still be a few months before the property can be offered for sale.

Janet Begley is a local freelance writer for TCPalm.com. If you enjoy articles like this and other TCPalm reports on Treasure Coast news, please support our journalism and subscribe now.

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