PANAMA CITY, Fla. - The Hawkins property on the corner of 23rd Street and Highway 77 has been sitting vacant for years. A few months ago, a developer told Panama City leaders about plans to build a retail epicenter on the land. That timeline was pushed back.
Back in June, Ledbetter Properties LLC, presented a preliminary site plan to Panama City commissioners, detailing the developer's vision for the old Hawkins junk yard property. At the time, city leaders were elated by what they heard.
"I'm really excited that we're going to take a piece of property that's as big as is it, that's been sitting dormant for so long, and these people are serious about doing something with it,' said Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki back in June.
Ledbetter officials said they planned to call the project "Bay City Point", filled with businesses new to Bay County.
"This is a large retail development. We haven't had anything this large built as strictly retail development, since the mall was build back in the 70's," said Brudnicki.
During June's commission meeting, Ledbetter also estimated the project would create more than 800 jobs and generate a total of around $55 million in capital investment in the city.
"Many of these materials will be bought in this area and region, further adding and injecting sales tax revenues, other revenues, and further strengthening the local and regional economy," said E. Wright Ledbetter C.O.O. of Ledbetter Properties LLC.
Back then, Ledbetter properties said they were working on finalizing the list of retailers coming to the shopping center.
They also said they would start construction right at the beginning of the new year. But, little progress has been made since that June meeting.
The original construction start date is now just weeks away, leaving many to wonder if the project is even still happening.
That is until now, Panama City Planning Director Mike Lane said Ledbetter emailed plans to him Thursday.
Those plans call for the project to be broken into two phases, with phase-one beginning as soon as possible.
Lane also said Ledbetter properties should have all of the necessary permits in February.
Ledbetter has reportedly promised potential tenants that, once they have the approved permits, they will have a product eight to ten months later. That means the project could be completed around October or November of next year.
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