PC Planning Board Tables Affordable Housing Project

By  | 

PANAMA CITY Panama City Planning Board Members addressing two multi-unit housing proposals Monday evening.

Plans for condos at the old Buccaneer Motel moves forward.

But plans for low-income housing at the Marie Hotel are still facing opposition.

For years, experts and consultants have told Panama City officials that the old Marie Hotel property is key to the long term revitalization of the downtown area.

It's been vacant and something of an eyesore for 30 years.

But Downtown residents and business owners are not fighting against the type of development the building's current owners are pursuing.

Royal American wants to convert the old hotel into a $10 million low-income housing project for seniors.

Opponents believe the development will draw a criminal element.

Royal American Developer John Lewis says, "If you think seniors over 62 years old, that have their own social security and make between 24 and 31,000 dollars a year, if that's a criminal element to the Downtown Panama City, I would just have to differ with you."

Panama City Planning Board Members say their concerned management might rent to people other than seniors.

One Panama City resident says, "Low income housing would probably revert to no income housing."

At least one senior citizens who lives in the St. Andrews Towers, downtown, says he's seen what happens around low-income housing: "There is a definite criminal element. We may be seniors, but we cannot handle situations when we can't expect the police department to be running down here all the time."

Business owners are also concerned about a lack of parking around the proposed development.

The planning board will take-up the Marie Hotel renovations at their next meeting.