Lisenby Hospital to be renovated into work-life style apartment community

Panama City

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — New plans are in the works for a historic Panama City building after finally being sold to developers.

The old Lisenby Hospital on 11th Street was built in the 1930s and eventually became an assisted living facility in operation until Hurricane Michael caused damage to the facility in 2018.

Now, the building will be transformed into space for modern day living.

“We’re glad to get the right buyer that has a vision for it,” said local real estate broker, Kevin Wattenbarger, who spearheaded the effort to get the building sold. “It was always kind of a toss-up. Should it be demoed? Is that highest and best? Is it best to be renovated?”

A new buyer has said yes to the latter, purchasing the property through Wattenbarger and his team.

“We’re glad to get it sold,” he said. “It was definitely not the easiest listing we’ve ever worked with.”

Wattenbarger said the layout of the building was a challenging sell, as it was originally a hospital and eventually a nursing home with wide halls and many rooms. After Hurricane Michael, there’s plenty to repair. However,  Wattenbarger said the buyer sees the property’s potential.

“Their plan is to try to create a live work community,” he explained. “It would be where you’re able to rent a unit where it would serve as your workplace and your residence.”

He said the idea is to create townhome-like spaces with work studios on the first floor and apartment space upstairs, giving remote and freelance workers a productive environment to live and work.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “It’s not just Panama City but this is happening elsewhere, and even COVID and the gig society and how people are working differently, it plays well to that.”

Wattenbarger said he’s excited to see how the plan plays out, giving another local historic building new life. Between 20 and 30 units could be built in the next year and a half.

“It will be rewarding especially driving down five to ten years from now and knowing that our efforts will hopefully benefit not only the community but provide housing and work areas and also is putting the property onto the tax rolls and making it productive,” he said.

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