PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The first block of Harrison Avenue from Government Street to East Beach Avenue is complete.
It gives folks a taste of what’s to come for all of downtown and businesses on the block are happy this portion of the project is over.
“I think it looks fantastic we’re really excited about the new landscape out there the widened sidewalks so people can walk down by our businesses,” said Josh Brannon of Serenity South Massage Studio.
An employee at the neighboring business, Playground Music, Jeremy Orona said, “Well I’ve lived here all my life so I’m used to what downtown used to be, it looks great so far. I think it’s a wonderful thing that they’re doing for a space for people to walk, and the drive-thru is gonna look nice as well.”
Both Brannon and Orona say the construction was not a major disruption to their business.
“We do have a community of renters who rent through us so it didn’t affect us too much but something like a restaurant I could see how that would hinder the businesses flow through,” added Orona.
City Manager Mark McQueen recognizes there are some problems.
“I mean there have been folks who have been upset and hindered by it, you’ve talked to Gilbert there at Trigo. On his side of the block, there’s not much parking behind his restaurant, whereas at other places going up Harrison behind it, either on the north or south or east or west side depending on what part of Harrison there’s plenty of parking.
Trigo owner Gilbert Hamati says he’s lost 30 percent of his business since construction began, which he expected, but he’s more concerned about the lack of parking.
He says many of the parking spaces are being filled by workers and residents, rather than customers.
He’s anxious to hear the city’s parking plans. This first block of Harrison took about 7 months to complete.
City officials say they expect to have the work completed as far as 4th street by January 2023.