Boom to Bust Part II

By: Elizabeth Prann
By: Elizabeth Prann

The changes that have taken place along the Panama City Beach shoreline since 2000, are incredible.

But as Newschannel Seven's Elizabeth Prann tells us in her part two of her special report "Boom to Bust".. The changes have come at a price, and now some developers are back, and ready to get to work.

The bust claimed well-known attractions, like Miracle Strip Amusement Park.

If not for the recession, who knows what would have happened.

But now a developer who was forced to abandon plans for a massive resort is back, and this time, ready to make a splash of the 33 acres they own...

In 2005, Sterling Property developers spent upwards of 30-million on land across from the hooters and breakers restaurant on front beach road.

They envisioned and an all-inclusive resort, plans for more than 17-hundred second homes, condos and even a gondola going straight to the beach!

"This is the first large scale one we've had to take a property that used to be designated for amusement was re-zoned to allow condominium when the condominium market was going and now that has fallen apart, has gone back to amusements to and do something else," said Mel Leonard Director of Planning & Building.

And as the city says, the developers are back to square one... Sort of.

"I think it's going to bring a needed benefit for vacationers we've found over the years in our studies that a family comes down for five or six nights they need something at least a couple days off the beach to entertain them, I think Pier Park is great start to that and a great compliment," said Garrett McNeil the CEO and President JGM developments, formerly the CEO and President of Sterling.

Emerald coast water park will stretch about 14 acres - home to a huge wave pool - a long lazy river and even a wave simulator.

"It will be another draw, another tourist attraction as many parks where children can participate is a good thing," said Richard Jackson Panama City Beach Manager.

Not only that but McNeil says it will simply help the economy.

"Ultimately it's going to bring new jobs to the area it's going to bring increased tax revenues and i think it's going to be a reason for people to come to the beach, a vibrancy to the area," said McNeil.

Newschannel Seven did speak with Shipwreck Island Water Park general manager Buddy Wilkes - as you may or may not know his water park is less than a mile away from this proposed locations.

And although Emerald Coast Water Park is offering different amenities such as the wave simulator as well as about 16 acres left for expansion -- Wilkes' reaction is... It's a very difficult business and.... it's almost impossible for two to survive in a town of this size.


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