PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Although they have declined to discuss the details in public, Panama City and Bay County officials have come up with three concrete scenarios for the county to sell the juvenile justice courthouse to the city.
The purchase price would be $4.8 million and the city could have its choice of options from buying it in cash or setting up a 10 year or 30-year loan. Those details came to light because of a records request.
“We are still negotiating a joint lease termination with GSA and would like to hold off discussing this item publicly at our respective board meetings until those negotiations are completed so as not to lose any leverage with the FED,” County Manager Bob Majka wrote in a March 2021 email to City Manager Mark McQueen.
The building originally handled the juvenile criminal justice cases in the area. However, county officials decided to turn it into a federal courthouse when the U.S. Government announced that its local building was untenable and the judges would be leaving the area and those who needed to deal with the federal court would be forced to travel to either Tallahassee or Pensacola.
The county initially struck a deal on the facility with the General Services Administration and got to work making the courthouse ready for the federal judges. In January of this year, News 13 broke the story that the deal had fallen through. The federal judges ruled that they would not stoop to having a court in a building that they deemed unsuitable.
Reached on Tuesday, County officials said they are waiting on a response from the city about the possible purchase. If the city declines, the property will go out for sale on the open market, they added.
“The City of Panama City is in the due diligence process,” city officials wrote in a statement. “If city staff determine it is feasible to purchase the facility, City Manager Mark McQueen anticipates bringing proposals to the City Commission for its consideration in as early as January.”
It remains unclear what the city would do with the facility. City leaders have discussed multiple needs over the years including a city-owned council chamber and a separate, city-owned and run Emergency Operations Center.