Panama City Beach City Council accepts bid to give up land

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. —  A piece of land in Panama City Beach is now getting a new owner after a private business approached city officials about buying it in April. 

Once the offer was made, the city put the land up for bid for 30 days but received no other offers.

The piece of land is located on Hutchison Boulevard, right across the street from Ripley’s Believe It or Not on Front Beach Road. 

In 2007, the city bought the roughly four acres of land for $5.2 million dollars and originally had plans to build a trolley system hub and a parking garage.

In April, Recovery Communities Inc. offered to buy the land for $6 million dollars.

At the city council meeting on Thursday night, the board voted three to two to sale the land.

City Manager Mario Gisbert says nothing necessarily happened to keep the city from building on the land except the times have changed.

Councilman Paul Casto says the land was beneficial to the city.

“Some of the revisions from back then did not include all of the condos that we have today that have these mega parking garages. We had all of these small hotels with minimal parking. Well with the code and with the advent of us increasing the parking requirements for hotels and condos, now we do have these garages that are plenty sufficient,” said Gisbert. 

Casto, “I just felt like the land was worth much more than that and we’d have a better use for it, original use for it down the road when the time comes.”

Councilman Phil Chester also voted against the sale.

Recovery Communities Inc. will have to pay at least $100,000 dollars within 60 days.  The business will have to close on the land by September 19, 2019.

The money acquired by the city will be used to begin another segment of the CRA plans on Front Beach Road.

Also at the meeting, the council passed a new ordinance to improve the looks of Front Beach Road and improve communication and connection through the city.

Through working with the state and also many 5G service providers, the board passed an ordinance to forbid any major cell towers or poles on the southside of Front Beach Road.

Gisbert says all new power and connection services are moving underground and this ordinance will also keep the poles, wires and boxes underground and out of site.

He says the company who is needing the poles will then have to purchase a pole if they want one but that’s where the city is stepping in. “What we’ve asked each one of the providers for the 5G is to look at pole that mirrors the pole that we have in the CRA, which is a black, fluted, tapered, decorative pole with an acorn bottom with a head on it and an led light.”

Gisbert says this not only makes the street look better but also helps expedite the plans of the CRA.

He says the plan will also save the city money since they will not have to buy a lot of the decorative poles themselves.

To keep up on all things Panama City Beach, inlcuding city council meetings and events, click here

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