Development of elite Fanning Bayou boarding school put on hold

A rendering depicts part of the future Casa Laxmi boarding school campus. (Florida Architects)
A rendering depicts part of the future Casa Laxmi boarding school campus. (Florida Architects)(WJHG)
Published: Jun. 4, 2020 at 5:55 PM CDT
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It’s supposed to be a multi-million dollar project in Fanning Bayou.

“[It will have] a driving range for teaching golf, a stable with a few horses where they can do some equestrian activities and maybe some polo,” said Joe Sorci, president of Florida Architects. But now plans for the Casa Laxmi boarding school have been put on hold.

Sorci said, “Because we’re dealing with international clients it’s more difficult for them to communicate, to travel. There’s still a travel ban. So until that gets lifted we’re probably not going to make a whole lot of progress.”

Bay Economic Development Alliance President Becca Hardin said the project was put on hold because of COVID-19.

“The company has purchased a 250-acre piece of property in the northern part of Bay County and, just like everything else that’s happened during this pandemic, they pushed the pause button but it’s still moving forward positively,” she said.

We’re told the school could offer job opportunities to local teachers and will even have an underwater laboratory. However, while that project sits idle, others are seemingly moving along.

Hardin said, “Some exciting things going on at the airport. That’s a gem for us and a key product for our community. We’ve got three projects out there that we’re working: Project Gator, Project Venus and also Project Purple."

She said each project will offer between 96 and 250 job opportunities respectively.

“We can’t tell you what they are, but I can tell you that they are aviation-related for maintenance of larger aircraft,” said Parker McClellan, executive director of Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.

With 3,000 acres of undeveloped property, the airport offers potential for developers.

McClellan said, “The airport is an economic engine for bringing tourism into our community and we also want to bring jobs and development.”

As for the development of Casa Laxmi, that remains to be seen. We reached out to a Casa Laxmi Foundation representative who declined to comment.

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