Historical Makeover

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

Nine years ago, the St. Andrew community was designated for a much needed facelift. Just last year, 13 events drew crowds and nine projects added to the visible improvements.

But in a letter to the Mayor of Panama City, several business owners voiced their complaints about the focus of the redevelopment project in St. Andrews.

Judy Varga has owned Le Lighthouse on Beck Avenue for the past couple of years, but this summer she says she's moving out.

"Things are happening, but what's really going on is we're just really left behind here on Beck. We need something to bring people back to us," says Judy.

The letter specifically blames Nancy Wengel, the project manager, saying, "Sadly and regrettably, it is obvious that she has turned her position into an advocate for her own passions and those of selected residents and merchants of the area."

Mitch Holman, the owner of the Captain's Table, says the focus of the redevelopment plans is not helping the entire community.

"We've got the sidewalks, we've got, we're painting light poles on the marina that cost thousands of dollars to paint that are going to have to be repainted. I think we could spend that money more wisely," says Mitch.

Several business owners say they would like to see the project entirely handed over to the downtown improvement board, noting significant changes for Harrison Avenue owners.

Nancy Wengel told Newschannel Seven she wishes she could wave a wand and the entire project be done, but when it comes to restoring an aging community filled with history, it doesn't go quickly.

But for owners ready to pay the bills now with streets filled with customers, patience isn't always easy to find.


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