Lack of Maintenance Blamed for Loss of Arc’s Milton Facility

Posted on March 11, 2024 by Romi White

Arc of the Emerald Coast is seeking a location in north Santa Rosa County after the owner of its current facility asked the organization to move out, citing a lack of maintenance on the five-acre property which has housed a day training center for developmentally disabled clients for around 30 years.

Gulf Breeze businessman Eric Herrholz purchased the facility for $100,000 back in 2017 after Arc Santa Rosa lost the property in foreclosure. Since that time Herrholz has allowed use of the property for the organization, now operated by Arc of the Emerald Coast, which is under a management agreement with The Arc Gateway.

Former Arc of the Emerald Coast CEO John Roper says Herrholz stepped in to make sure clients had a place to get served. “Eric is a great guy,” Roper said, explaining Herrholz didn’t charge rent and only asked Arc to cover annual property taxes and maintenance on the property. “He kept his word, he did a lot of maintenance for us, and he didn’t charge us.”

Roper decided to leave the organization two years ago and says at the time he left “everything was great with that facility.”

Herrholz said after Roper left neighbors and others started complaining over the property’s disrepair and that he had to hire workers to perform increasingly more maintenance on the property, which includes a 7,500-square-foot facility, three modular buildings and a blueberry orchard.

Missy Rogers, CEO of The Arc Gateway, which is based in Pensacola, said she “inherited” the Milton facility after entering into July 2022 management agreement with Arc of the Emerald Coast. Rogers says since then she’s tried unsuccessfully to get “something in writing,” outlining each party’s responsibilities for the property. Rogers confirmed Arc has paid the annual property taxes.

Herrholz says that back in November 2023 he offered Arc a fundraising opportunity. However, he said he kept being told “We’ll know next month” about whether or not the board would approve it. Rogers said by the time she was able to seek board approval that Herrholz had removed the offer.

So in January Herrholz asked Arc to leave within 60 days. Rogers said she informed her board on February 23.  

“What hurts the most is the clients. It breaks my heart,” Herrholz said on Monday, stating he was also upset at Pensacola News Journal’s coverage of the matter, which he says “painted him in a bad light.” Herrholz says PNJ only reached out to his media manager via Facebook message and ran with their version of the story without affording him an opportunity to comment.

“Who else gave (Arc) seven years free rent and paid to fix things,” said Herrholz, noting that the property has been managed by Domus Dei Trust since shortly after the 2017 purchase.

Miracle League of Santa Rosa County President Mitzi Goldstein confirmed Monday that her organization has agreed to partner with Herrholz for the fundraiser he had offered Arc. The charity will receive proceeds from an upcoming FIGHT.TV pay-per-view event.