New businesses fill empty plaza on Middle Beach Road

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The shopping plaza on the corner of Middle Beach Road and R. Jackson Blvd. in Panama City Beach sat nearly empty for almost a decade. But a new attraction is hoping to help jump-start life back into the shopping center.

"We are familiar with this facility and we came here to visit over a year ago and saw the debris and graffiti on the walls and glass on the floor, so we're so excited to take it and brighten it up and make it a fun place," Just Jump Trampoline Park Co-Owner Beth Hutton said.

"It has become alive since they started working on it. The parking lot, the green areas, everything looks a lot better than what it was," Chuy's Pops Owner, Jazimina Barragan added.

The two new establishments are the first to open up in years in the center.

"It was full in here when Publix was here and then when Publix left everything kind of started leaving little by little," Barragan said. "The only place that survived was the nail place."

Although it's been an obstacle finding the right fit for this plaza. Just Jump hopes to help jump-start more business coming to the area.

"I think it's bad for the Beach to have empty parking lots, empty buildings, empty lots, so it's really great for the city to bring back some vibrancy and see the center come back to life," Panama City Beach local Pat Bunker said.

Barragan said she hopes the new growth brings in more people.

"I got really excited when the trampoline park was going to go in the same plaza, so I thought it was a really good fit to go in the same as them," she said. "We just hope for a lot more, the rest of the shopping center to get filled. Fun stuff and good stuff for the community to come."

And it's not just the new businesses that are looking forward to the new improvements.

"It's exciting, we have a little boy that just turned four. There is really not that much to do in this town for toddlers, so we're really excited. We live two blocks away and this is our new favorite place," Bunker explained.
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A new cafe is the next business to open in the complex. Hutton said they have many more to come.