PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Bay County has decided to forego their first right of refusal to buy the historic Sapp House.
At Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, commissioners discussed whether to proceed with their opportunity to buy the Sapp House in order to relocate the home and create more parking spaces near the Bay County courthouse.
“We’ve had a parking problem at the courthouse for over thirty years,” said Bay County Commissioner Robert Carroll. “We’re going to be bringing the juvenile justice courthouse there, which will add more parking issues.”
The Sapp House is over one hundred years old, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was restored by former Panama City mayor Lauren DeGeorge.
Residents spoke out at the meeting, saying preserving the historic downtown home is more important than putting a parking lot in its place.
“Make my downtown, our downtown, a better place,” said one of these residents, addressing commissioners at the meeting.
Mark McQueen, the city manager of Panama City, agreed.
“We have unique charm and history here in the historic district of Panama City,” he said. “Clearly we want to maintain that.”
A team of investors who are next in line to buy the home gave their side at the meeting as well.
“We want to do this,” said one of these investors, addressing the commissioners. “We want to take that house and make it a gathering spot.”
Bay County has obliged.
“We chose not to exercise our option to purchase,” said Commissioner Carroll, saying that instead, they would “allow these investors to purchase the property.”
Carroll says he’s hopeful the home will return to its former glory.
“The group of investors are willing to put their hard earned dollars into it,” he said. “They got up and stood before us and said they’re fully committed so we look forward to it and it’s going to be a beautiful home once again.”
News 13 spoke with one of the investors on the team.
He says “they are looking forward to preserving the Sapp House and seeing it once again become a gathering spot for the community.”