The Panama City Commission bought several derelict properties to clear and improve quality of life for residents.
PANAMA CITY — Panama City leaders agreed to buy several derelict downtown properties on Tuesday to clear and one day improve with green spaces and other upgrades.
The properties, located in north downtown at 704 E. 15th Street, on Roosevelt Drive and at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Carver Drive, will cost a total of about $300,000. Purchasing the properties is part of a five-year goal to enhance the north downtown area by removing blight from a major corridor of the city.
The Panama City Commission voted on the purchases during its regular Tuesday meeting.
“I'm happy to say this is starting,” said Kenneth Brown, city commissioner.
The five-year goal was set by the city's community development department and the Downtown North Panama City Community Redevelopment Agency. As such, the department and agency will split the purchase costs of the properties.
The property at 704 E. 15th Street includes a damaged convenience store. The other sites include multiple empty or unused lots.
“Our job is to eliminate slum and blight and these are properties we can use to really improve the area,” said Mayor Greg Brudnicki. “These are properties the city needs to add to quality of life for residents.”
Brudnicki said that while the city doesn't have specific plans for the properties yet, quality of life improvements could include adding parks and other kinds of green spaces.
Caitlin Lawrence, spokeswoman for the city, noted after the meeting that the city planned to hold a town hall meeting in November for residents to voice how they'd like to see the properties developed to improve the area.
In the same vein of improving property, the commission also voted during the meeting to demolish the remains of the former Buccaneer Beach Motel at 711 W. Beach Drive, overlooking the bay. The city awarded the $228,244 contract to Sikes Concrete Inc and plans to place a lien on the property to help recoup the cost.
An exact date for when the demolition will start has not yet been set.
“This is for all the people who have called me about that property this year,” Brudnicki yelled in excitement after the vote as he shook his arms above his head — an action that garnered laughter from the audience.
The decaying motel has sat unused for years. The city razed a section of the property in July after citing it for being an unsafe structure and a nuisance.
Brudnicki said after the meeting that it was important to tear down the old motel, given that it sits on a prime spot considered the gateway to the city from the west.
“Presentation is everything … you see this beautiful water, then you see this quagmire and mishmash,” Brudnicki said of the motel.
Given that the property is 466 feet of prime location by the bay, the site should sell quickly for development once it's cleared, Brudnicki said.