Plans for a new candy store in downtown Pensacola’s SoGo district have been scaled back thanks to rising construction costs, developer Quint Studer said Monday.
As we reported last year, Bubba’s Sweet Spot was originally conceptualized as a new storefront building on the corner of Main and Baylen Streets. The store will now open in an existing and recently-renovated storefront at 412 South Palafox Street, adjacent to The Artisan mixed-use development.
“Construction costs are up across the country, including Pensacola,” Studer said. “With more and more construction, costs are going up two to three percent every month. We just couldn’t make the financials work for a one-story building on the Main Street property.”
Studer, along with his wife Rishy, are partnering with golf icon Bubba Watson on the development. The three are all co-owners of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The Studers also own the Bodacious Family of Shops, among multiple other developments downtown.
The trio originally estimated the project would cost about $1.3 million. Studer says with the rapid increase in construction and stormwater abatement costs, the actual cost would be closer to $2 million. While plans have been scaled down for the much-anticipated candy store, the partners don’t see much changing from the original vision.
“The biggest change would be less seating,” Studer said. “When deciding to not proceed with the original plans, we asked ourselves, what are some other options? We looked into how we could draw people to the other side of Palafox Street.”
Originally, the new downtown store was planned to include a 15 seat old-time soda fountain bar, a “Kids Zone” for parties, old-fashioned arcade games, a fudge bar, an ice cream bar and retail areas for a variety of other sweets.
Developers Rishy and Quint Studer said they drew inspiration from other candy and ice cream shops around the country, including from visits to Asheville, N.C. and Savannah, Ga. “We just loved going to all the candy stores up north,” Rishy Studer said. “They’re all just so visual.”
“We’ll have a variety of snacks, chocolates and sweets,” Studer said. “We want to include the sweets everybody grew up on.”
Before the latest change in development plans, the original vision was for the store to be built behind the Bodacious Olive, where SoChopped opened in the fall.
Studer says it would make sense for the Main Street property to be developed with something taller than the originally-planned one story building. “I think it would make sense to put a building there that’s more vertical,” Studer said. “At one time, we had a hotel developer look at the site.”
Bubba’s Sweet Shop is expected to create between four and five new jobs. Since opening the Bodacious Shops and witnessing several other entrepreneurs and local businesses invest in the SoGo district, Studer estimates more than 60 jobs have been created along the once largely vacant intersection.
“My hope is to have Bubba’s Sweet Shop open within 90 days,” Studer said. “But I’ve been told I’m often optimistic.”