Panama City Commissioner Concerned About Marina Project

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - For years, Panama City officials have been struggling over how to move forward with the Downtown Marina revitalization project. 
Most would agree the latest proposed vision of the developers, Sonnenblick-Legendary, is ambitious. It's not yet confirmed how many, if any, of the businesses have contracts signed.  
"The plan they submitted in September is essentially what you have in front of you," said Commissioner John Kady.
Along the water in a recent marina plan shows several major restaurants listed including McGuire's Irish Pub, Bonefish Grill and Jimmy Buffet's Landshark Restaurant. Within the plans is another Buffet venture - Lulu's Restaurant.
Other features include two parking garages, 100 unit apartments and two hotels - a Hilton and a Marriott. A movie theatre or entertainment center would replace Panama City's current City Hall. One of the only features remaining would be the Marina Civic Center. Though according to emails between the Bay Arts Alliance and Sonnenblick, control of the venue would be handed off to the developer. The venue could also be closed for up to two years for $12-to-15 million in renovations. 
While many might like this version of what the marina could be, not everyone is impressed. Commissioner Kady said the venture has morphed in the past few years, and he doesn't think this latest plan will benefit the community.
"This is supposed to enhance the city," said Kady. "You know, we have serious commercial activity north of this line. I don't really need to do anything to compete with that. I want to enhance that and keep this as a public space."
Kady believes the development is geared more for tourists than for locals.
"I don't believe this is reflective of sustainable growth for our community and where we want to go in 20, 30 and in this case, 75 years," said Kady. "We need to start talking about a place that is a place you want to live, not a place you want to visit."
City commissioners canceled a public meeting on the project that was set to take place Tuesday. Kady will hold his own town hall meeting on the Marina project at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall.
According to developer Peter Bos and Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki, these are not the final plans for the marina. Both say the latest plans will be discussed during a public meeting on March 14th. 

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