As you head into Niceville/Valparaiso on SR-85, you’ll more than likely see an abandoned building that sits on the right-hand side of the road before you pass Tradewinds restaurant. It’s a building with plenty of glass on the facade and blinds that block anyone from looking into the exterior. Outside, you can see where someone posted three posters of the Divine Mercy image on top of the plate glass.
It’s a beautiful, if heavily abused, building. And it’s the first thing that someone sees when you enter Niceville and Valparaiso from Destin Fort Walton Beach Airport noted Councilman Bill Schaetzle at the September city council meeting.
“There was a computer place, might have been a computer repair place, and it might have been a smoke shop. And now, it’s a building that is sitting vacant. It’s an eyesore,“ said Schaetzle.
Schaetzle asked aloud if something could be done about the building.
Chief Popwell responded that the building was seized in a drug raid that took place “several years ago” and that, as far as he knew, the building was still owned by the Department of Justice. He told the council he would look into the issue.
The property appraiser’s record confirms what Chief Popwell said – the Federal government owned the building for about a year, between 2013 and 2014. On the appraiser’s website, the instrument of transfer was “FJ” or final judgment, which indicates that the transfer was made as “written determination of a lawsuit by the judge who presided at trial, which renders rulings on all issues and completes the case unless it is appealed. It is also called a Final Decree or Final Decision.
This is where it gets… interesting. The transfer was made to the United States’ Government from a group known as “The Sunshine State Charity Building 1 LLC.” According to the State of Florida’s business records, the registered agent of the company was Patrick Anderson of Fort Walton Beach. The same Patrick Anderson was arrested in October 2012 after the raids for trafficking in synthetic cannabinoids, known as ‘bath salts’ or ‘spice.’ The Justice Department was able to have him sentenced to 24 months in prison for, among other things, tax fraud. In addition to his prison sentence, he had to pay almost $175,000 in restitution to the government for not paying taxes on his illegal drug sales. Anderson was released in November of 2016, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.
According to the property appraiser’s office, the building in question was built in 1972. Between 1985 and 2014, the land had 11 different owners in 30 years.
The property now has a private owner, Tuyet T Nguyen. According to the appraiser, Nguyen has owned the property since 2014, when they received it from the US government in a transaction of $105,000. Nguyen owns a total of seven properties in Okaloosa County, including several condo units and a building listed as a cleaning business in Bluewater Bay.
Currently, the Government Street property is valued by the property appraiser for about $40,000 – but was certified for about half that amount in 2021.
The location of the Woodstock Smoke Shop on Government Avenue in Niceville. The Building has not hosted a business in almost 10 years.
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