When Jay Odom rolled up to Okaloosa Walton Junior College in a busted-up Volkswagen to start college in 1976 – the campus was a very different place.
He had to park at the top of a hill (the one hill in Niceville happens to be on campus) because “my Volkswagen that didn’t have reverse,” Odom said to laughter from the crowd. He “I’d have to push it off in the afternoon and start it by putting it in second gear because that’s all I could afford at that time.”
Now Odom, one of the most prolific property developers in Northwest Florida, has returned to campus with his company to build Raider Village. “in the 70s, I did not have the vision at that time to know that I’d be standing here today,” Odom said of the groundbreaking.
The first phase of the complex, called Raider Village, will top out and become available for student use in Spring 2025.
The Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC) student housing complex, which will hold almost 200 students, will change the school’s game- especially regarding athletics. “And I just want to say to the coaches that are here today; we’re spending a lot of money here. You are out here to celebrate. But I’m expecting these residence halls to be a magnet for you to bring in the best athletes, and I’m expecting a national championship out to you every year,” said College President Dr. Devin Stephenson, “No pressure,” he added to laughs from the crowd.
All four teams on campus had great success over the last year. Women’s Basketball won an NJCAA National Championship. The men’s team was the national runners-up. Both the Baseball and Softball Teams were able to win the Panhandle Conference in their respective sports as well.
Several state colleges have on-campus student housing, though not all of NWFSC’s rivals in sports do.
According to plans developed by the Odom Group and NWFSC, the new building, which houses 192 students, will have the same brick facade as the rest of the buildings on campus. The building will be at the front of campus with a view to College Boulevard facing south, across the road from the Mattie Kelly Arts Center.
Each unit inside the building will have four bedrooms and four bathrooms. The Lobby area of the three-story building will host study and social groups for students.
After the first phase of the project finishes, leaders of the State College expect to start phase two – a 128 housing units on the same plot of land.
Northwest Florida State College confirmed a $10 Million loan to construct the student housing project. Half of the loan will come from the Northwest Florida State College Foundation, a non-profit set up to support students at Northwest Florida State College. The other half will be supplied by the Community Bank of Mississippi.