PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – Panama City commissioners and the public saw Phase I of the new Panama City Performing Arts and Events Center for the first time during a Thursday public workshop.

Many were impressed by the developers’ vision for the venue.

“We’re all really tired of driving five hours to Atlanta, five hours to Tampa or Orlando, and five hours to New Orleans and I think that the new civic center will really put us on the map for the concert and performing arts situation,” Panama City resident Skipper Turk said.

The center will be considered a “flexible” space, able to accommodate performances, exhibits, receptions, and conferences.

“We want our community to be using these assets every day or as much as we possibly can so the more flexible we make the civic center, the more likely we are to have it used all the time,” Panama City Commissioner Jenna Haligas said.

The plans are in the early stages.

City officials will discuss a location for the project, seating capacity, and other details during a July 14th workshop.

There’s also good news about another major venue downtown.

The planning process for the Martin Theater is about 90% complete. The historic venue was badly damaged during Hurricane Michael.

Designers presented their vision of the theater’s interior once it’s completed, staying true to the art deco theme.

“That building is going to be something people will come to Panama City to see,” Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said. “Just to go in there and look out the window, to go in there and have a drink, to go in there and experience the deja vu of Panama City in the 1920s. If we can make it look like that picture on the inside, I am going to be really impressed.”

Brudnicki said construction could begin in September, with a ribbon-cutting by the end of 2023.