Downtown Panama City Revitalization on the Horizon

By: Bryan Anderson Email
By: Bryan Anderson Email

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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  • by Anonymous Location: Panama City on Jun 13, 2012 at 11:41 AM
    Downtown is one of the best areas in Panama City. Come to Friday Fest, or the festival of Nations and see some of the cool and amazing events going on. Downtown is the cultural center of all of Bay County. Within a 2 mile radius you have The Martin Theatre, The Visual Arts Center, The Civic Center, The Bay Arts, Great art galleries, Dance Life Dance Studio, many cute cafe's and boutiques. No other area of our county can boast such an amazing lineup of really unique and cultural events. If you want main stream or need to buy diapers, head to 23rd street, if you want something special, want to build memories and really have an experience come downtown and see what Panama City should be like!
    • reply
      by Ang on Jun 13, 2012 at 02:38 PM in reply to
      That's the enthusiasm everyone needs to help bring Downtown back to it's full potential!
  • by Brenda reagan on Jun 12, 2012 at 06:32 PM
    Downtown is worth saving and
  • by Maureen Location: Panama City on Jun 12, 2012 at 05:25 PM
    Downtown has enormous potential. Many old buildings waiting to be reborn. It still needs some sprucing up, but I'll take it over the generic chains you see in every mall. Look at other cities that have been successful in revitalizing downtown. Locals are the primary users. I guess a few tourists would be okay.
    • reply
      by Ang on Jun 13, 2012 at 06:59 AM in reply to Maureen
      If more people had the positive attitude like you do, it would happen so much quicker and easier! I like downtown because there aren't any chain stores or restaurants down there :)
  • by cheryl Location: panama city on Jun 12, 2012 at 04:43 PM
    To sound like a broken record nothing of any substance will be built down town that will attract decent people as long as you have the rescue mission in that location AND all the homeless living at the downtown marina. I do not want to be panhandled to death just to visit a store downtown. Ever drive past that area at night. Does not give one a feeling of safety.
  • by Mark Location: PCB on Jun 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM
    Downtown has been and the Marina is a great place, for us old timers I would love to see it come back. Look at St Andrews, it has came back. I disagree with you James. PCB is over crowed as it is; down town is where the money needs to be spent
    • reply
      by Jay on Jun 13, 2012 at 11:45 AM in reply to Mark
      Mark, I believe you are going to get your wish - I predict in 10 years the biggest problem in downtown will be parking and how to transport all the people coming to see the coolest part of our city. No more will we be the "city beside the beach" but a destination of our own- watch and see!
  • by James on Jun 12, 2012 at 09:14 AM
    Panama City is just not a tourist destination. It just isn't. It doesn't have the infrastructure to support a convention center. Now, The Beaches do, but not, as Mike Nelson would say, "Downtown Panama City!"
  • by jim on Jun 12, 2012 at 09:11 AM
    I would really hate to own a business that was not on one of the streets being continually upgraded. Just look at the McKenzie House; a let down. Landscaping the marina...I don't think that is what people come to town to see. Whose tax monies are being spent in this one concentrated area? What about the streets and roads leading into this protected area? What about the businesses in PC, but not right downtown? What's up with that?
  • by Ang Location: Panama City on Jun 12, 2012 at 08:16 AM
    "Disgusted"- When was the last time you visited Downtown Panama City? Never? Tan Fannies is in St. Andrews. Tom- When was the last time you visited Downtown Panama City? Downtown has a lot to offer such as multiple dance studios (the owner of Dance Life Dance Studio won first place in the Southern Heritage Classic dance competition among many other competitions and the fitness instructor at this same studio is "Miss North American Fitness" and an International Federation of Body Building professional), art galleries, retail shops, spas, salons, restaurants, and so much more. All of these wonderful places are locally owned. Take a day and visit downtown to see what all it has to offer.
  • by Tom Location: PCB on Jun 12, 2012 at 06:46 AM
    Downtown PC is a black can put makeup on it....but it will still be a black eye....stop wasting tax payers money on shining a turnip.
  • by Disgusted Location: Panama City on Jun 12, 2012 at 06:34 AM
    Get rid of Tan Fannies and then maybe you can actually get some real development done... Trying to fix up downtown with that trash still there is just lipstick on a pig.
    • reply
      by bob on Jun 12, 2012 at 08:19 AM in reply to Disgusted
      Tan Fannies is in old St. Andrews,not downtown.
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