Panama City Project Leaves Locals Divided

Panama City Project Leaves Locals Divided

The Panama City Marina project is moving forward, but not without some contention.

Tuesday’s public meeting on the Panama City Marina brought out many locals. The project’s developer Bob Sonnenblick laid out the latest designs.

Among the changes: more green space, a boardwalk, and a public fishing pier. also includes an amphitheater, water taxi terminal and retail stores with apartments on top.

“While I don’t know all the details. They’ve changed so much about the marina project. I do think that the growth and the potential that it has to bring more people to our area is great and I think it will be great for businesses,” Karen Vargas Hatcher, owner of Planted True said.

City leaders say things aren’t set in stone.

“We’re going to find out what the probability is now when these feasibility studies come back,” Mayor Greg Brudnicki said. “They will tell us what type of restaurants, how many restaurants, how many hotels.”

Others say the plans may be headed in the wrong direction.

“Say Mr. Sonnenblick builds all of this and it turns out to be nice, but maybe after a couple years some of the things maybe don’t work out which we’ve seen in many other areas,” Jane Lindsey, owner of Elegant Endeavors Antique Emporium said. “So is there a plan for what’s going to happen at that point?”

Lindsey says adding outlet stores to the plan may harm existing downtown businesses.

“If we bring in outlet stores we will have all of these stores that sell that type of things have a difficult time staying in business,” Lindsey said.

The Panama City Commission will meet again Tuesday to hear from locals who didn’t get a chance to speak at the last public hearing.

Latest plans revealed for Panama City Marina project

Latest plans revealed for Panama City Marina project

By Byron Khalil | Posted: Tue 10:35 PM, Sep 19, 2017  | Updated: Tue 10:48 PM, Sep 19, 2017

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Despite new developments to the current plans for the marina project, some Panama City locals say they still are not pleased.

Project developer Bob Sonnenblick presented new plans with the changes he says the city commissioners have expressed to him and what locals have asked about.

Sonnenblick laid out his plans at city hall Tuesday evening in front of the community and commissioners.

He’s added triple the amount of green space, a boardwalk, a splash pad and a public fishing pier. He’s also tripled the number of benches and seating so people can enjoy the sunset by the marina.

The movie theater, water taxi terminal and hotels are still in place.

Some locals at the meeting praised the project saying it’s what the area needs for revitalization.

Others say the project could still use some fixing.

“That design is just nothing but glut. It’s like putting downtown Manhattan on the marina. It’s just a gross glut of buildings,” Frank DePinto, a vocal critic of the marina project said. “It’s blocking all the scenery and it’s destroying the marina.”

“Name a water front marina in the state of Florida that is not developed? You can’t. Now Bay County is one of the poorest counties in the state of Florida. Don’t we deserve a world class operation?” Larry T. Clemons, owner of Gallery 721 in downtown Panama City said, “Don’t we deserve a world class city and entertainment area for our children?”

Sonnenblick is working with Bellingham Marine. A representative from the company says they’ll be part of building more than 230 boat slips for the marina project.

Sonnenblick says these changes are still not set in stone. Panama City commissioners will discuss the marina project again at their next meeting on September 26th.

 

Panama City FL Locals express support for Sonnenblick Development marina redevelopment project

Locals express support for marina redevelopment project

By Megan Bell |
 PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – “You know it wasn’t on the agenda and so many people from so many different organizations came out today and the lion’s share of them were for marina redevelopment,” Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said.

A plan to liven up downtown Panama City by redeveloping the marina has been criticized by many. Some locals have expressed their concerns, but others supported the idea at Tuesday’s city commission meeting.

“Everybody’s doing all their lobbying, you know the devil’s in the details, we’ve still gotta go through and figure out number one, what’s feasible, what we can put on here and we know we’re not going to make everybody happy, but there was a tremendous amount of positive feedback today, to pursue the development,” Mayor Brudnicki said.

Roughly 20 people attended the meeting in support of the redevelopment, all of whom agree that something has to be done.

“There’s been a flight to the beach, a flight up 77, a flight up 231, everything has left the downtown [area] and it’s continued to happen for many, many years and so we do need to do something that’s going to be the spur, the catalyst, the thing that’s going to rejuvenate the downtown area,” Brudnicki said.

Representatives from the Bay County Chamber of Commerce say community support for the marina redevelopment project and for commissioners overall, will help advance Panama City.

“The point that we’re trying to get across is: let’s take a look at this plan, let’s adopt the plan, do the next public hearings and then the feasibility [study]. That feasibility study will tell us what will and will not work,” Bay County Chamber of Commerce President Carol Roberts said.

The project developer, Bob Sonnenblick, will be presenting a conceptual plan to commissioners next month, but financing the project is still a concern for some.

“You know we’ve got this asset, we just have to be mindful that we don’t put the burden on the taxpayers, but that we do something that everyone can benefit from,” Mayor Brudnicki said.

If the plan is approved, the developer is expected to start construction by January of 2019.

 

 

Panama City: Special Report: The Marina’s Future

PANAMA CITY, Fla – The Panama City Marina has been the anchor for the downtown area since the 1950’s, but it wasn’t until 2014 that the city actually gained complete ownership of the facility from the state. That gave city officials the right to develop the marina, partnering with for-profit businesses. Some believe the right development could reverse a 40-year trend.