Scott Seymour stands along the boardwalk that connects the bungalows on Black’s Island. [ David Adlerstein | The Star ]
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Black’s Island up for sale

For a guy who didn’t go to college, Scott Seymour hasn’t done too badly for himself.

The affable 55-year-old Port St. Joe businessman began a career in construction and buying real estate as a young man in Peachtree, Georgia, in south metro Atlanta, and around age 30, came south to Bay and Gulf counties, where he has been at it ever since.

He’s got a number of projects he’s working on, including developing a $20 million hotel on the mainland, but none are more noteworthy, and more in the news, than Black’s Island, a seven-acre resort island about a 15-minute (fewer if you’re in a boat that can move like Seymour’s) ride from the marina in Port St. Joe.

Seymour, who acquired the property in May 2018 with a partner Ryan Klesko, and now owns it outright, has decided to put the island on the market, and its 26 stylish bungalows.

The whole island could go for $50 million, but both Seymour and his sales associate, Lori Bembry Weldon, with Jon Kohler & Associates, think it more likely the bungalows will sell separately, starting at $1.5 million to $1.6 million each.

“We’re looking for people with a like interest,” said Seymour, as he provided a recent tour together with Weldon. 

By “like interest,” he means the bungalows are for those well-heeled people who aren’t bent on maximizing their return by providing the 1,225 to 1,425 square feet space as a short-term rental.

Rather, Seymour is seeking those who appreciate the opportunity to sink their toes in the unpretentious sand of an island getaway, with over 3,700 feet of quiet shoreline, strolling peacocks and guineas, and a farm-to-table vegetable garden, plus ample amenities, and yet still remaining within a short boat ride of America.

“Literally the ‘world’s best beaches’ are on one side with the protected bays of a gin-clear marine estuary on the other,” said Kohler. “This combination is why adventure seekers, boaters, and beachgoers alike come to recreate here. 

“This is where families and friends grow together enjoying God’s great outdoors. This is the real Florida,” he said.

After the island had sat largely mothballed between 2009-18, Seymour and partner bought the island in 2018 from Panama City developer William Grimsley for $6 million. But its most prominent owner was William Koran, who had acquired the island in the 1970s.

Koran, a diving enthusiast, had a colorful reputation for enhancing the seaside adventure theme of the island, which dates back to the 18th century pirate Black Sam Bellamy, who, according to legend, was the wealthiest pirate in recorded history.

Between 1715 and 1717, during a time when Bellamy plundered the seas, he called the island home. In 1717, the pirate and most of his 146-man crew perished off the coast of Massachusetts with the sinking of his ship, the Whydah, and along with it reportedly five tons of treasure.

In 1982 the wreckage of the ship, said to have carried indigo, ivory, gold and pounds sterling, was discovered, and to date, some 200,000 objects, including a cannon filled with precious gems and gold, has been recovered, with many items on exhibit in a museum in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts.

“Do the math on what would be the income taxes (on that booty),” said Kohler. “It’s roughly what it would take to buy the island today.”

Also, if you do the math, you will note that it’s barely five months between the time Seymour acquired the island and when Hurricane Michael struck, just three months after the new owners began short-term rentals.

The damage to the Deltec bungalows’ signature round shape was not structural, mainly cosmetic, said Seymour, and after pouring in money to shore up the site, and addressing deferred maintenance issues, he reopened the island in the second quarter of 2023.

“It’s now almost a complete rebuild,” said Kohler, noting the restaurant, in a grand four-story clubhouse that features wood plank walls and ceiling, a center spiral staircase and a pair of balconies, is soon set to reopen.

The amenities on the island are lavish, with an elevated 1,200-foot cedar boardwalk, a 40-foot by 16-foot swimming pool, a water trampoline and beach volleyball, and a dock that accommodates boats up to 40 feet and jet skis.

The bungalows, with cypress walls, each have waterfront views. The one-story models have two bedrooms, a loft bedroom area, two full bathrooms, a kitchen, living room, dining area, laundry room and balcony. The two-story models, which are larger at 1,425 square feet, have an additional half-bathroom.

In terms of utilities, the island is self-sufficient, with underground power that runs from the mainland along both primary and secondary electric utility lines. For water, there’s a state-monitored 600-foot private well with a 10,000-gallon tank capacity and a private sewer system. 

Even as the property is being marketed, it remains open for business, with bungalows beginning at $850 a night, with no requirement of a week’s stay.

The market value of the property, which Property Appraiser Mitch Burke’s office more than doubled from $7.7 million in 2022 to $16.2 million last year, could be on its way even higher.

Burke and four members of his staff went out last month to do a five-year review, since all properties in the county must be physically inspected every five years.

“You can do it via aerial as well, but we don’t get aerials every year,” he said. “This is such a big property. It’s our time to go out there and really do a tape measure on everything. We’ll spend all day doing our stuff.

“It’s a very unique property, with a totally different market,” Burke said. “It’s just like a port, so comparable sales are few and far and difficult to (factor in).”

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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