PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) — Housing in Downtown Panama City is greatly needed, so when developers introduced a concept for the Park Villa Apartments on West Beach Drive commissioners were excited. However, Mayor Greg Brudnicki said they saw a major issue in their plan for parking.
“My concern was the same concern as Mike Nichols, you know the parking issue there would be tough,” said Brudnicki. “He said there are 47 hundred spaces downtown, but those spaces are not adjacent enough. I’m not gonna reach in to get my groceries and go across two highways to go back to my place.”
The concept has 120 units and 120 parking spots despite current city code requiring apartment complexes to include 1.4 parking spots per unit
Commissioner Mike Nichols said developers must add more parking or downsize the project before moving forward.
“I get it when you have 120 single units but when you have a third single, a third two bedroom and a third three bedroom we know if you have a spouse or a roommate you’re going to have two cars,” said Nichols.
Commissioners also raised the question of visitor parking and boat trailer space – and with the site being isolated from the heart of downtown even the public spaces there would be off limits.
Beach Drive also is a very busy street with no way to park on the side of the road.
Developer Tom Murphy told the commission it’s his risk to take and he wants to continue with the project despite concerns – citing costs.
“The economics of this site have been thoroughly looked at and we need 120 units on this site for us to be able to financially justify the 18 million dollar investment we’re about to make on that site,” said Murphy. “So we appreciate the concern and we share your concern but frankly the risk is ours.”
Though the basic concept was approved, the developers must re-submit a development plan before taking the next steps.
Mayor Brudnicki says he is all for the project once the parking meets the code requirements. He says the commission is just trying to help developers make the best investment.
“That was my only concern with it,” said Brudnicki. “You know I would love to see something beautiful there but don’t set them up for failure.”