Downtown PC Looks for New Director

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Panama City’s Downtown Improvement Board has already begun its search to replace Executive Director David Jackson. Jackson resigned abruptly last week with no public explanation. The change comes at a crucial time for the downtown area.

Downtown Panama City has enjoyed unprecedented growth during Jackson’s seven years as director. However, the next seven years could be even more phenomenal. That is why board members are moving quickly to fill Jackson’s position.

"David Jackson brought vision, creativity and spunk to the job. It's imperative that we find someone like Jackson," said outgoing DIB Chairman, John Darrah.

Darrah says they already have a perfect replacement in mind. "It's Ron Thomasson, city planner, and if you don't know his background already, you should. He is an outstanding man who we've worked with for a year and admire," said Darrah.

Incoming DIB Chairman, Dwight Hicks, will be interviewing the prospective directors. The successful candidate will have their work cut out for them.

Developers are proposing a huge condominium project for downtown, but Panama City officials are trying to decide which projects will be a good fit for the area.

Developer Bob Blackerby proposed a high-rise condo at the downtown marina. Blackerby wanted to swap land at the marina for some Beach Drive property he is buying from the DIB. His plans called for a new city hall and library on Beach Drive. However, city commissioners rejected those plans Tuesday night.

Now, the city is asking the DIB for some of that Beach Drive property for a new library. Blackerby still holds a short-term contract on that land.

"We want to do the right thing with the contract we already have in place. We think it's premature to act in favor of the city before Blackerby decides what he wants to do with the land," said Darrah.

Chairman Hicks plans to talk to Ron Thomasson and report back to the full board next week. The board could hire a new director as early as next week.