PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Friday morning state and city officials broke ground for the new Panama City Readiness Center.

The two-story building will house Calvary units from Bonifay and Chipley in addition to the 1st Squadron of the 153rd Calvary Regiment. 

The cavalry unit is primarily tasked with reconnaissance. 

“Our primary mission on the federal side is to serve as the eyes and ears of the 53rd IBCT,” Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Brown said. “The stateside, then we also conduct hurricanes support, any type of state active duty operations diska in support of the state of Florida.”

Construction and Facility Management Officer Ryan Leonard said a readiness center is crucial to the operation of the unit. 

“A location for our soldiers to do their training with administrative tasks and other sorts of training,” Leonard said.

The old armory was damaged beyond use by Hurricane Michael.

“It still has leaks in the roof and whatnot,” Leonard said. “And so it’s just an unsafe building for us now.”

The 60-year-old building sits just south of the old airport terminal on Lisenby Avenue.

The new location will be off West Bay Parkway next to Northwest Florida Beaches International International Airport.

“We decided to get away from the Bay and get it further away from water sources and direct impact like Hurricane Michael did here,” Leonard said

Brown said he hopes the new facility will help strengthen the regime’s relationship with the community. 

“We’re looking forward to continuing that relationship and just having a building that’s fully functional and one that’s our own and one that we can start a new relationship here still in Bay County and still serving the citizens,” Brown said. 

Leonard said they hope the facility will be completed in early 2025.