PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — More than four years after Hurricane Michael substantially destroyed the Marina Civic Center, Panama City commissioners approved requests for bids to tear down the structure.
Commissioners said once they find out the cost, they will decide what to do with the property.
“Once we get the price, then we’ll say, well, it’s this much to take it down,” Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said. “Maybe we, what does it cost, for us to figure out what it would cost to renovate what’s there.”
Some are worried about the cost of getting rid of the structure.
“So what if the number comes back $10 million to demo the thing,” Panama City Commissioner Josh Street said.
Depending on the cost, some commissioners said they may vote to keep the building standing. Others said they would likely choose to level it.
Commissioner Jenna Haligas said it would cost around $74 million to renovate the building. If they choose that path, FEMA will only give the city $500,000 for renovation.
“The civic center, that particular civic center is not it’s not what I would want for the city in the future,” Panama City Commissioner Jenna Haligas said.
But some residents are worried there is not enough money to build something new.
“It seems that there is no money,” Panama City Resident Frank Depinto said. “There’s only enough money to demolish the Civic Center. Not enough money to rebuild the civic center.”
Haligas said there’s only about $5 million available for new civic center plans, but the city will pursue grants and state funding. Panama City has been planning to replace the civic center for more than a year.
But they still don’t know what they want to build.
“Let’s come up with something else that’s going to go there, whether it’s an art museum, whether it’s an amphitheater, whether it’s something else,” Street said.
Commissioner said there’s one reason why it’s taken so long to come up with a plan.
“I do think that that’s part of, you know, sunshine law,” Haligas said. “You know, we can’t meet with each other and talk with each other any other opportunity except at this dais.”
City officials said they hope to have demolition bids in-hand by early summer.