Panama City Beach mayor Gayle Oberst can remember a time when the beaches weren't much more than motels, restaurants and bars that closed for the winter.
"Those of us who lived here used to have to travel to buy certain things, to go to the doctor. And all those things are here now, so it's very exciting," said Oberst.
And the excitement will apparently continue for the foreseeable future. Thursday council members signed off on a plan, creating 4 plats in front of the back beach Wal-Mart.
Crews are already building a McDonald’s on one. Panda Express has claimed another.
Across the street work continues on Pier Park North, a 60 million dollar retail complex nearing completion.
"We are working diligently on weekends, every chance we get in-between rain, in-between freezes, we are just trying to get this done," said Ricky Caldrone of Hoar Construction.
Despite some delays, builders are confident they'll make their store opening dates, beginning with Dick's Sporting Good's next Wednesday.
90% of the more than 250 pier park north construction workers will have moved on by May. They leave behind what Oberst calls the makings of more than just a beach destination.