PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) — The City of Panama City hosted a public workshop on Thursday to discuss potential locations for a new performing arts and events center.
The project is intended to replace the original Marina Civic Center that was destroyed during Hurricane Michael. Locals packed the Panama City Center for the Arts on Thursday night to meet with city leaders and offer their thoughts on their ideal location for the center of events. The city project team talked about the process of selecting a location and discussed the factors that went into the decision. These included financial factors, technical factors such as noise and zoning, and project requirements such as open space and durability.
In the end, the team narrowed it down to a handful of locations.
“Of the 13 sites, they’ve now narrowed it down to two sites. One being at the Panama City Marina, close to where the current civic center is after we tore it down. And then the other would be the parcel just behind City Hall,” said Panama City Manager Mark McQueen.
City officials stressed the importance of community involvement in this project. A lengthy question and answer session took place, during which a handful of attendees expressed concerns about the potential size and location of the new project. Some have argued that a venue of this scale would be better suited to an out-of-town location, where things like traffic would be less of an issue. Others thought the proposed locations were necessary to support the downtown tourist industry.
“Logistically, if we were to build a new performing arts and events center out of downtown, we would have a repeat of the mall’s construction date in the 70s and we would have a vacuum sucking business and life out of downtown and we would crush the efforts that have been made over the past five or ten years to revitalize the area,” said Panama City resident Ethan Brown.
Authorities hope to make a final decision on the location in August. They will then enter phase 2 of the process which includes the selection of a company to design the new performing arts and events centre. Then the construction will begin. If things go well, McQueen said the whole process should take about four and a half years.
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