PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – Panama City Commissioners voted Tuesday to apply for a Historic Preservation Special Category grant for the St. Andrew school.

The grant is a 50/50 match for the $500,000 contribution the city has in hand for a total of $1-million.

It will allow the multi-phase restoration process on the old school to begin.

It will become a community center.

The total restoration will cost around $5-million, but this first million will get the auditorium open for public functions.

“The goal is to take it back to being a community center, a place where the community will gather,” Panama City Commissioner Josh Street said. “This includes money for the roof, electrical, fire suppression system, plumbing, some of the very needed components that we have to have to allow people to get back into the facility.”

Street said he hopes the city will receive the grant this year, with construction beginning early next year.

The auditorium could host its first event by the end of 2023.