Bay County Commissioners approved a St. Joe Company plan on Tuesday for a 948-acre development at the Beach that will include housing, hotels and retail.

PANAMA CITY BEACH — Bay County Commissioners approved a St. Joe Company plan on Tuesday for a new housing and retail development at the Beach.


The 948-acre Planned Unit Development will be located between the Home Depot on Back Beach Road and the Panama City Beach Sports Complex. The development plan consists of approximately 1,760 single family residential units, 440 multi-family residential units and up to 750 hotel rooms. The plan will also include up to 160,000 square feet of of retail property.


The Bay County Commission approved St. Joe’s PUD application during its regular Tuesday meeting.


"It will bring more housing, obviously, St. Joe is a great partner in Bay County," said Chairman Philip Griffitts. "They have development rights out there and they are exercising those rights by developing single family homes, multi-family homes, commercial and hotels."


Some area residents expressed their concerns at the meeting about the development that will take place near their neighborhoods. They were concerned that the cutting of trees could increase flooding in the area.


"We want the locals to know that we have a land development code that is a very strict land development code," Griffitts said in response to the concerns. "It requires traffic studies, environmental impacts; those things that are sacred to the citizens of Bay County."


According to a St. Joe representative, the application is operating under the Ecosystem Management Agreement with respect to the wetlands and habitat preservation. Under the plan, 95 acres is set aside for open space and civic uses.



There isn’t an exact date when the development will begin, but Griffitts said he believes it will be begin rather quickly because St. Joe understands the importance of housing in this area. The county has been in a significant housing crunch since Hurricane Michael ripped through more than a year ago.


The commissioners expressed concerns about the application in regards to the traffic and questioned St. Joe about it during the meeting.


"I think everybody who lives on the beach or travels to the beach knows that traffic is an issue out there," Griffitts said. "Our land development codes requires traffic studies to be done, so if there are extra lanes required, turn lanes and service roads are addressed early in the process."


St. Joe did a traffic study in 2016 and were not required to do one associated with the PUD. The company will, however, be required to do an update when they come back to the county for development orders, the final step needed before development can begin.