PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The City of Panama City will be welcoming a new state-of-the-art rec center in place of the old one.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center has been a staple in the Glenwood community since the 60s.

Greg Dossie, came to the demolition Monday morning and said the center is special to his family.

“My family’s history goes back to the rec center way before I was born my father was one of the ones that were on the Negro Improvement Association that purchased that land,” said Dossie.

A former long-time employee of the rec center, Juliette Smith also reminisces on being at the center for seventeen years before it was damaged by Hurricane Michael.

Juliette Smith said, “And I just thank God for being part of their lives and whenever I see those kids they tell me, you are the reason why I am so successful today.”

The new 30,000 sq ft rec center is going to include several new amenities, like a 3-D printing lab, teaching kitchen, a double basketball court gymnasium, concession stands, and of course a statue commemorating Dr. King.

“We’re gonna have a historical component, this is a contribution to Dr. King who had the vision back in the 60s that helped us to really bring together the integration of individuals and certainly in a recreation center that where integration absolutely should be manifest,” said Panama City City Manager, Mark McQueen.

“It was wonderful to hear the citizens reminisce on the value of this center and to them personally as they were growing up, we don’t wanna lose that,” McQueen added.

The MLK rec center will be accompanied by an affordable housing complex across the street, where the Massalina Bayou complex used to be.

The new MLK rec center is expected to be finished by sometime in 2024.