PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) — After years of planning, The City of Panama City and The St. Joe Company held a groundbreaking for the marina hotel and restaurant.
Leaders from across Bay County came to celebrate the launch of “Hotel Indigo” and the economic boost it will bring to downtown.
Business in Downtown Panama City has suffered over the last few years. However, today’s groundbreaking symbolizes a new era for the area.
Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said the hope is this investment will persuade others to do the same.
“This is a catalyst to get everything going,” Brudnicki said. “The price of real estate is going up because of this project. “
This now empty land is filled with new opportunities.
The St. Joe Company is investing 36 million dollars into the 124 room Hotel Indigo. St. Joe Company President and CEO Jorge Gonzalez said he hoping the investment will circulate money back to the local economy.
“We think a hotel is a great first step,” Gonzalez said. “It’s one of many steps that we hope because what it is going to do is bring visitors to the downtown that are going to frequent the restaurants, the cafes, and the shops.”
They also want this to attract others to invest downtown.
“When the downtown is healthy and vibrant the entire community benefits,” Gonzalez said.
South Carolina Senator, Tim Scott, traveled here for the groundbreaking. He said the hotel is being built on what is called an opportunity zone, and seeing a community use one is a blessing.
“This is the domino effect that you typically see in opportunity zones or the lands continuous with that opportunity zone will also see new life breathed into it and so what ultimately happens is one investment leads to another,” Scott said.
Senator Scott and Panama City Congressman Neal Dunn said the best is yet to come.
Construction of the hotel will take about two years, while the restaurant will only take ten months
Many current downtown business owners also attended Wednesday’s groundbreaking happy to see their hard work paying off.