PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Holiday shopping may be tougher for many locals now that the Panama City Mall has closed its doors for the "foreseeable future."
Mall management says the mall has been a part of the community for 42 years and many locals in Panama City grew up shopping at the Panama City Mall. "I shop here all the time, as a kid I used to go to the Game Stop all the time," said Panama City Resident Tyler Carpenter. "I love the cookie place, I get that actually every year for my birthday."
Unfortunately, Carpenter will have to go elsewhere to find his favorite cookie. That's because the Panama City Mall is closed for good, another victim of Hurricane Michael.
Mall managers, Hendon Properties, out of Atlanta said the closing affects 90 stores. "A lot of the stores are here or down at the beach. It's a 45-minute drive or something like that," said Carpenter.
"Being here in Panama, with this being the only mall in Panama City, and not being able to get the things that you want and need it kinda puts you in a rut," said Panama City Resident Keith Maxwell.
Many stores in Panama City, like Target and Kohls, are having to rebuild after Hurricane Michael and now with the mall shutting down, finding places to shop for gifts this holiday season could be a little tougher for some. "Now that puts us in a situation where we either have to go to Dothan or Tallahassee or venture out elsewhere just to buy presents for the family," said Maxwell.
Hendon Properties also said around 500 people will be losing their jobs due to the mall closing. "Right now a lot of people need their jobs more than anything, with the hurricane and everything so it's gonna be pretty brutal," said Carpenter.
After speaking with Hendon Properties, Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki released this statement saying in part:
"We were informed that the owners plan to redevelop the mall into an open-air concept and retain many of their national tenants. We look forward to working with the owners and are willing to assist in any way possible."
Hendon Properties says they're ambitious about rebuilding but the process can take six months to several years to secure retailers.