Panama City Beach - Lots of couples celebrate anniversaries on Valentine's Day. So do local shoppers, and people looking or fun and entertainment. Monday is the 3rd anniversary for Pier Park. February 14th, 2008, saw Pier Park's first fourteen stores and restaurants open their doors for business. They were the first of more than one hundred businesses that opened over the next few months.
"We're pretty full, so we've grown a lot in three years and very proud of that. The community has really really supported us 100 percent," the director of mall marketing, Felicia Cook said.
Plans for Pier Park started more than ten years ago They changed a number of times before evolving into what you see today. It's become a sort of downtown area for Panama City Beach.
"In the early days, Panama City Beach was a long and lean city. There wasn't any central place you could go. It was pretty much scattered out," City Manager Richard Jackson said.
The park has also been a huge boost to the beach's future development. Pier Park's property taxes go into the city's CRA funds.
"The property taxes go back into provide the infrastructure; the streets, storm water facilities, sidewalks, landscaping..." Jackson said.
Even though Pier Park has already grown a lot just over the past few years, Cook says there's room for more development. Up next will be Pier Park West, which includes the hundreds of thousands of undeveloped square feet. Simon property group is already leasing this property to any business that wants to move to Pier Park.
Pier Park has become the gathering place for community celebrations like New Years Eve, the 4th of July and Mardi Gras.