On the site of the old Best Western, just past Panama Macs and before the WCI building (old Antiquities Building) is the proposed "Bingo Resort".
A Dallas developer is partnering with a local American Indian tribe to build an upscale bingo resort on Perdido Key.
Cy Keefer said Friday that details of the proposed development, including the number of jobs it is expected to generate, will be announced within the next couple of weeks.
"The idea we have is to open a first-class bingo facility the tribe will be proud of and the community will be proud of," Keefer said.
A source close to the deal said Friday night that the Perdido site "will far exceed" the newly opened bingo casino in Atmore, Ala.
"This type of bingo is planned to be only one component in a whole resort package," the source said.
Wind Creek Casino & Hotel in Atmore features 57,000 square feet of gaming floor and 1,600 electronic bingo gaming machines that look, sound and function like standard slot machines. The Wind Creek Casino is operated by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
The Perdido project partnership is between Keefer's Key Development of Florida Co. and the Perdido Bay Tribe of Lower Muscogee Creek Indians, led by Chief Bobby Johns Bearheart.
Keefer also quashed rumors that his plans call for a casino on the key, noting that Florida laws prohibit such gaming facilities without a full compact agreement with a federally recognized tribe. There are five Indian casinos in South Florida.
A sign on a tract of land on Perdido Key states that it is being reviewed by the Escambia County Development Review Committee. The site could become the home of a bingo hall
The proposed 15,000-square-foot bingo resort will offer numerous amenities, include a restaurant and separate environments for smokers and nonsmokers, he said.
"We are now in the process of securing a site location," Keefer said. "We are looking at the site where the Best Western motel was formerly located."
That site is owned by Perdido Hospitality Inc., a local company whose partners include hotel developer Julian MacQueen. The Best Western motel was severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan and subsequently razed.
MacQueen said he has no other interest in the bingo project other than being one of the owners of the land.
He declined to comment on the status of the negotiations with Keefer but added that he wants whatever is built on the key to "be a class act" and an economic shot in the arm for the community.
Randy Cudd, a longtime resident of Perdido Key, said he welcomes anything that will help the key and boost its economy.
"We have plenty of rooms out here and nobody to put them in," Cudd said. "I hope (the bingo hall) will attract people to the key," he continued. "We are not talking about Las Vegas here, but it's a reason to come to the key and spend money. In the end it's all about jobs, jobs, jobs."
Keefer said proposed development got under way when he was invited by members of the state recognized Lower Muscogee Creek Indians to explore the possibility of building the bingo facility on the key.
After researching various locations throughout the county, Keefer said he selected the Perdido Key site based on favorable demographics.
"We feel the population base is there, and we view this as a very viable project for ourselves and for the tribe," Keefer said.
Keefer owns a company that specializes in working with state and federally recognized Indian tribes to develop bingo resorts and other gaming facilities.
Florida laws are very specific, he noted, when it comes to setting up bingo facilities.
Under state statutes, a percentage of the profits of bingo facilities must be distributed to local charities.
"This is not a deal where the tribe will get rich or the developers will get rich," Keefer said.
He said if the project goes forward and the bingo facility is built, he will hire a professional management team to run the resort.