Downtown Panama City Revitalization on the Horizon

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Panama City- Linda Smith has owned and operated Willows Tea Room for the past three years. Like many downtown Panama City business owners, she admitted times are tough.

"It's quite hard work," said Smith.

But Smith and others who've managed to keep their doors open could soon see some positive changes.

"Downtown is a hub of Bay County," said Panama City Downtown Improvement Executive Director Dutch Sanger.

Panama City's Downtown Improvement Board got some answers and ideas Monday night from Delray's Beach's Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Marjorie Ferrer.

"Sociability is a very big part of our downtown," said Ferrer.

The improvement board invited her to Panama City after seeing how she's helped transform downtown Delray.

"What was your first impression of this area?," asked NewsChannel 7's Bryan Anderson.

"It was so cute, it's a traditional cute downtown. This is so like Delray Beach," said Ferrer.

Ferrer said one of Panama City's biggest problems is empty storefronts. She said the area shows a lot of potential but warned improvement requires a community effort.

"It's an investment in the future, it's not an expense, and it takes a long time," said Ferrer.

Panama City officials have been focusing a lot of their revitalization efforts on making the downtown marina the centerpiece of downtown. The Panama City Community Redevelopment Agency will meet Tuesday afternoon for an update on the relandscaping master plan.

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