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Burger King planning to rebuild

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
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

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.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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