With Progress Comes Problems? The History of Scenic Hwy 30-A

Posted by Blake Morar on Monday, June 13th, 2016 at 11:22pm

Seagrove along Hwy 30AThe stretch of land now known as Scenic Highway 30-A, and the seaside communities such as Seagrove Beach and Seaside, have an interesting and storied past. It began back in 1956, when word got around that a beach route would be coming that would link Destin to the coastal communities of Seagrove Beach, Grayton Beach and Blue Mountain Beach, and stretch all the way to Panama City Beach. This was not a popular notion to those who chose to live in Seagrove because of its seclusion and quite setting. Though complaints were made, and though the developer of Seagrove Beach, C. H. McGee offered land further inland so that the new highway would be routed around his village, rather than through it, it was all in vain. The Florida Highway Department was set on its plan.

In order to preserve his upscale vision for the community of Seagrove Beach, McGee decided to lay out a tightly regulated community with covenants that prohibited trailers, shacks or other temporary dwellings, and instead, were only open to single family dwellings that were built using “approved and accepted” materials. Furthermore, this community would allow no untoward activities, odors or other nuisances that would subtract from the quiet and seclusion that was so important to the monied buyers he hoped to attract. He was so intent upon this demographic that he priced out those who he considered to be undesirable – those who were attracted to communities such as Panama City, with its attractions and amusements. The new highway 30-A was completed in phases, and by the early 1970s, was completed. At first not many people used the scenic highway, as they mostly were more intent on getting from Point A to Point B than on sightseeing.

In the 1980s, things began to change, starting with the opening of a restaurant that soon attracted construction workers, oystermen and shrimpers, making it more of a roadhouse than the type of restaurants McGee and residents of Seagrove wanted. To further this change, approval was given by the county commissioners to build two high-rise condo buildings, whose development ran into problems. Seagrove residents attended the commission meeting and spoke against allowing high-rises along this stretch. It was decided to not allow high-rises, bars, carnivals or otherwise that would detract from the appeal to affluent and young, urban professionals who were the chosen demographic for these communities.

Seaside Community along Scenic Hwy 30-AWith that in mind, the master planned community of Seaside was born, when Robert Davis set out to create a carefully designed town that surpassed even C.H. McGee’s imagination. Davis’ plan was to create a setting where residents would live, work and play. Today Seaside is the cultural capital of Walton County; an upscale community with a high-end resort and tourist attraction for those desiring entertainment such as concerts and wine tastings, versus honky tonks and carnivals. Other upscale communities soon followed, such as Alys Beach, Rosemary Beach, WaterColor and Watersound.

With popularity can sometimes come trouble – this time in the form of excess traffic and lack of parking that during tourist season, can get so bad that solving this dilemma is now considered the county’s top priority. To add to the discontent of those residing in communities along 30-A, these residents pay over 75% of the taxes for the county, yet South Walton holds just 1 seat on the commission. Because of this, residents “below the bay” are vying for a vote on incorporation so that they may gain control of their future.

The remaining pages of Hwy 30-A’s destiny are yet to be written. It is widely understood, however, that this area will remain upscale and attractive to professionals and baby-boomers alike. To read in more detail, see this article by author and columnist Harvey Jackson.

For information about all 30A homes for sale, be sure to contact The Morar Group - your Scenic Hwy 30-A real estate specialists.

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