Thinking of investing at
Panama City Beach? This should convince you!
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According to AOL Money and Finance,
Panama City Beach
is The Number 1 Place to Own a Summer
In an article that came out Thursday May 29, 2008
Kelli B. Grant with SmartMoney.com wrote that amid the
credit crunch “someone else’s misfortune could work in your
favor.” Home prices are down and according to the short
article, if you are in for the long-term and plan to use
your second home, now is a great time to buy.
Quoting the article for Panama City Beach:
There’s something for everyone in this Panhandle town
where white “sugar sand” beaches along the Gulf of Mexico
give way to inland attractions, including six championship
golf courses and an active restaurant and nightlife scene.
Prices for beachfront property run the gamut from $100,000
for a one-bedroom condo, to $2 million-plus for
single-family homes of five bedrooms or more, according to
vacation rental site HomeAway.com.
Why Buy Now: Besides the weather (temperatures rarely dip
below the 60s, even in January) a new international airport
is slated to open in the next couple of years. With it comes
low-cost carriers and an abundance of nonstop flights.
(Currently, flying from New York involves at least one
connection and travel time of anywhere from 4.5 to 13 hours.
In comparison, a nonstop flight from New York to Orlando
takes about two hours.) That ease of access should help
boost tourism — and property values, says Anil Pereira, CEO
of SecondSpace.com, a property-finding service. “It’ll be
more feasible to own a second home there,” he says. “People
will be able to fly in for the weekend.”
There you have it folks, the opinion of someone much
smarter than I and completely outside our market. We are
the number one place to own a summer home, followed by the
Pocono Mountains, PA, then The Crystal Coast, NC, Lake
Tahoe, CA, and the Great Smokey Mountains, TN.
The clear emerald water is the same. So is the bright white sand that
squeaks as you walk on it.
Beyond the high-tide mark, however, there is plenty new at
Beach, Fla. New restaurants and shops. New condominium resorts,
bringing total rooms available to more than 21,200. Heck, there's even
a new circus.
Much of what's fresh this summer will be found at Pier Park, a $143
million, 920,000-square-foot open-air shopping, dining and
entertainment complex. You'll find major retailers such as Dillard's,
Target and J.C. Penny's, as well as local specialty shops.
And you'll find plenty of places to eat: Back Porch Seafood, Five Guys
Famous Hamburgers & Fries, Guglielmo'sItalian Restaurant, Hofbrau Beer
Garden, Panera Bread and Quizno's.
There may be no better place, though, to grab a beer and a bite by the
sea than Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. Snag a table on the roof deck
where you can look across Front Beach Road to the white sand and blue-
green water stretching to the horizon.
When the sun goes down, you might head to Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, a
little bit of Nashville moved to the Gulf Coast. Tootsie's, a landmark
honky-tonk in the country music capital, is where many musicians got
their start. Or at least a few free drinks. The Panama City Beach
branch will bring live music to Pier Park.
The 93-acre complex also has a 16-screen movie theater complex for
that rare rainy day.
The Florida State University Flying High Circus moves into a big top
pitched at Frank Brown Park, just across Back Beach Road from Pier
The FSU circus has performed at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain for
more than 40 years. A second troupe is set to perform at Circus by the
Sea for the next 10 years, producer Donald Hamrick said.
"The beach is craving family entertainment," he said.
Trapeze artists, jugglers, clowns and other acrobatic daredevils will
perform six nights a week beginning June 13.
The performers will also be instructors during a four-day Circus Camp
for children ages 7-12.
Parents are already registering children for the camp before they know
where they are staying, Hamrick said.
Those parents will have plenty of lodging options. More than a dozen
condominium resorts have arrived in the last year or so, including
Sterling Breeze, a complex a half-mile from Pier Park that opened in
March, and Splash, a 276-unit complex with its own water park that
opened last February.
I am not sure if you are aware, but in the
midst of Holiday shopping, right before Christmas, a
significant piece of legislation was passed.
The Mortgage Relief Act of 2007 was signed into law and with
the stroke of a pen, the market for those trained to execute
Short Sales properly and professionally blew wide open.
As the foreclosure market continued to grow,
seemingly larger and larger with each media report, there
was one impediment that many real estate agents kept talking
to us about. The dreaded 1099 issuance!
With one fell swoop, the Mortgage Relief Act of 2007 removed
this obstacle. No longer will the amount of debt being
forgiven by the mortgage lender be taxable income to the
The way has been cleared for Short Sales.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Panama City Up 15% in Existing Condo Sales Statewide
(FAR) releases November 2007 home/condo resales data
Florida, January 3, 2008
Real Estate Market continues to show positive trend
Florida Association of
REALTORS® (FAR) this week released sales data for November 2007 existing
condos and homes, and Panama City continues to stays ahead of the statewide
Statewide, sales of
existing condos declined 29 percent (2,375 units closed for November 2007
compared to 3,356 for November 2006). In contrast Panama City shows a net
increase of 15 percent (31 existing condo units closed in November 2007
compared to 27 closings in November 2006) for the second best showing in the
state, only to Fort Pierce-Port St. Lucie. Panama City is followed by
Daytona Beach with a 6 percent increase, with all other areas of the state
posting negative percentage numbers.
In sales of existing
single-family homes, November 2007 shows a statewide decline of 30 percent
(8,106 units closed in November 2007 compared to 11,609 in November 2006)
while Panama City shows a net decrease of 21 percent (85 units closed in
November 2007 versus 107 units closed in November 2006). This places Panama
City in fifth best position statewide only to Fort Walton Beach, West Palm
Beach, Sarasota, Melbourne and Daytona Beach.
home and condominium prices in Panama City continue to see a market
correction, with existing homes seeing a 9% reduction in November 2007
versus November 2006 and existing condos seeing a 12% reduction for the same
period. Efforts continue on the part of REALTORS® to educate sellers about
realistic expectations while buyers continue to recognize the potential for
long-term sustainable growth in Panama City and Northwest Florida.
Report - November 2007 Existing Condominiums
Florida down 29%, Panama City up
15%, for second
least-affected area in Florida
Information courtesy of Florida Association of REALTORS®
Statewide & Metropolitan
Statistical Areas (MSAs)
Pierce-Port St. Lucie
December 8, 2007 courtesy of PCBDaily.com
This past week I was sent a document presentation of our
area and the future planned growth that we will see in the
coming years. It was put together by Accrue Planning. I
couldn’t find anything about them on the web, but I decided
to post it anyway. There is some good information, but there
is also other information that I’m not sure how accurate it
The document cites that there are no inventory,
franchise, or state-level property taxes in our area and
that our area remains to be attractive for businesses.
Discussed in the 78,000 acre, master-planned West Bay Sector
Plan by St. Joe and the new airport. Also discussed is the
possibility of FedEx and UPS relocating their international
operations centers here. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but
I don’t think that has been confirmed.
The Gulf Coast Parkway will stretch from 231 to 98, just
west of Mexico Beach and will improve hurricane evacuation,
open up more development opportunities and reduce traffic
through Tyndall Air Force Base. The Gulf Coast Parkway is
also expected to open up travel corridors from the East Bay
area to the new Airport.
Currently, Highway 79 is undergoing a transformation to a
four-lane highway up to I-10 and there are plans to widen
highway 77 up to I-10 as well. Actually, this could have
already happened or begun already. My travels do not take me
up that road.
Also in the document in information about Disney and
Universal Studios coming to our area. I know nothing of the
validity of this information, but they are claiming that
55,000 acres known as “Moody Pastures” is under contract and
that Disney has spent money on the site. Also discussed is
the possibility of Universal coming to the East Bay area.
Once gain, I feel it necessary to note that I was unable
to find information on the publisher of this document and I
do not endorse the validity of the information it contains.
Here is the link to the document:
Northwest Florida Future Development
– BAY COUNTY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
RECEIVES FINAL FEDERAL
FOR AIRPORT RELOCATION
Airport Relocation Project
Enters Construction Phase
Florida – (August 16, 2007) – The Panama City – Bay County
International Airport and Industrial District (Airport Authority) announced
today that its airport relocation project is entering the construction phase
now that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued the final necessary
federal permit, completing the permitting process. The new airport will be
located in western Bay County north of County Road 388 and east of State
Road 79 on land being donated by The St. Joe Company (NYSE: JOE).
the permitting process now complete, we have entered the construction phase
of the project,” said Airport Authority Chairman Joe Tannehill. “We intend
to move expeditiously to a groundbreaking.”
receipt of this permit marks yet another major milestone in the decade long
effort to bring better air service to Bay County and all of Northwest
Florida,” said Tannehill. “We have moved a giant step closer to providing
this community the opportunity for better air service and more competitive
fares; the opportunity to attract new business, industry and jobs to our
region; and the opportunity to protect West Bay and preserve tens of
thousands of acres for public use and enjoyment.”
Under the terms of the Section 404
permit, The St. Joe Company is providing a conservation easement on
9,609 acres for the
mitigation of airport construction impacts. The land, located southeast of
the airport site, will become part of the West Bay Preservation Area. This
easement will become permanent upon the commencement of construction of the
airport. St. Joe is also donating 4,000 acres for the new airport site.
All Major State and Federal
Permits for Airport Relocation Now in Hand
now completed both the state and federal permitting process, and we have
honored our commitment to protect and enhance West Bay as part of the
airport relocation process,” said Tannehill.
Previously, the Airport Authority had received all necessary permits from
the state of Florida, selected a project construction manager and secured
financial commitments from the state of Florida and the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA). The Airport Authority has received bids for the first
phase of airport construction and will select a contractor shortly. In
addition, the Airport Authority is working to complete negotiations for the
sale of the existing airport.
Rigorous Process Ensured
Net Environmental Benefit
evaluating the Airport Authority’s permit application, the USACE was
required to consider 1) what cumulative impacts the project would have on
the environment if the permits were approved, and 2) if practicable
alternatives that would impact fewer wetlands exist.
In issuing the Section 404 permit, the USACE
concurred with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP)
analysis. In its analysis,
FDEP cited a number of net ecosystem benefits that will result from the
The conservation and permanent protection of significant
contiguous portions of the West Bay region, including bay shoreline,
wetlands, streams, uplands and the overall watershed;
A wetlands function lift significantly in excess of that
needed to compensate for functional losses (impacts);
A mitigation plan that significantly exceeds both state and
federal requirements for all possible current and future impacts; and
An effort to restore a large contiguous tract of uplands and
wetlands to approximate historical conditions more suitable for dependent
species native to the area.
“C” comes at a time when the entire nation is focused on Panama City and its
recent purported growth as a destination
of choice by Money, Forbes and Fortune
Magazines. By currently shifting to a Buyer’s market, investors have, once
begun to “shop” in the Panama City Beach periphery. Home sales are up.
The smart buyers are banking that 2-3 years
from now, once the new developments
are complete, the support industry arrives, and the new airport is open,
City will become the family destination of choice. And, given the opportunities
that abound –we think they’re right!
In this past months Condo Owner magazine Peter
Bos, one of the biggest most successful real estate developers in
the Gulf Coast region, said it well. "Dont encourage your clients to
list for sale there units, the reality is that the seller is making
more money holding onto his property than the alternative use of
Lets take a look for a minute at the factors
that typically drive real estate markets. First you have two major
factors, one is local trends and the other is national trends.
The local trends are relative to job growth,
migration in or out, path of progress, and new construction. The
following two articles speak well of this for the Panama City area.
Slatin Report: Booming Bay County
Click Here to see Entire Article
CNN: Top 10 Lists: Market by Market
Click Here to see Entire Article
The second trend is the national market -
the direction of the economy. Inflation, interest rates, and flow of
funds are the indicators for direction for the national trend.
Based on everything we see these days, these
indicators are all in check or are currently moving in a favorable
direction. In a May 22nd article in the Wall Street Journal the
headline asks "What's Worry No. 1? Growth or Inflation?" Both of
these factors are typically true friends to the real estate
The one trend that has no historical
experience, that may well be the biggest factor, is that in the US
over 77 million baby boomers are moving through their peak earning
years during the next several years. That fact alone has the
potential to drive the second home real estate market in a major
CNN Money reported in a May 19 article
"Boomers bet on property for support in there retirement strategies.
Many expect real estate to buoy retirement savings. One in four
boomers own more than one property." David Lereah the NARS chief
economist said in a statement "Boomers have an almost insatiable
desire for real estate, boomers own 57% of vacation homes and 58% of
USA Today says "Baby boomers love their real
estate. So much that they're counting on it to help them fund
retirement." in a May 20th article.
The beautiful beaches of Panama City. Photo taken in April.
With this all said, we have seen some
relaxing of the real estate market in Panama City recently, but
based on the strong fundamentals (some of which are sighted in the
aforementioned articles) we expect and believe what CNN forecasts
... "Panama City will have the strongest appreciation anywhere in
the nation with a potential of 21% appreciation of real estate from
june of 2006 to June of 2007."
If you are already invested in the Panama
City market then good for you. We've got some great things to look
forward to. If you're not yet invested in this market then now is
the time. It's only a matter of time before demand catches up with
supply. We'll continue to brief you on the exciting news coming out
of this market.
Two new projects coming.
Theme Park and Animal Kingdom
There is a purchase of over 790 acres at Smith
Lake around Bonifay, the intersection of I-10 and Hwy 79,
and around Hwy 288 in
Washington County. Two separate entities will put in 2 side by side parks.
will be an animal kingdom and the other a theme park with music venues, roller
This will employ over 1500 people. Blue Dolphin development out of Destin is
development. It will be a 5 year build out at a cost of $150 million.
They are video taping a presentation to the public that will be shown for a
public announcement on the news
for local Channels 4, 7 &13 on May 24th.
By Christopher Mitchell
News 13 On Your Side
Friday, June 2, 2006
Bonifay, FL - Jim Fowler of Mutual of Omaha's wild Kingdom series just bought
790 acres of land just outside Bonifay this week.
He's now developing an animal
park on the land that's going to become a major tourist destination on the
But, according to the developer, Barbara Farris of Blue Doldphin II, the Jim Fowler safari-type park is only a small part of all that's
planned that will change the face of Bonifay forever.
Farris tells News 13 while point to a rendering of the park plans that a large
theme park will be built next door to the animal park.
"We're talking about 3 to
4 years from now when a celebrity coast theme park in this region (next to the
animal park)" will be built.
She says the park will include amusement rides and
have different sections themed after different celebrities.
An amphitheatre is
also part of the plan, large enough to accommodate performances by the biggest
singers and entertainers in the performing industry.
Groundbreaking for the Jim Fowler park is scheduled in two years once all the
permits are in place.
Farris says this is phase one of the three phase
development plan. The second phase will be the large amphitheatre and third is
the celebrity theme park.
She says the development will include affordable
housing developments and numerous shopping venues.
The Jim Fowler safari-type
park is scheduled to be complete in five years.
> PLACE | Florida 03 29, 2006
BOOMING BAY COUNTY
Build it and they will come. Occasionally that happens in
real life, and in the case of Bay County, Florida, it's
about to happen in a big way. By the end of this decade, Bay
County (and its main city, Panama City), promises to be
among the fastest growing areas in the state, if not the
The new Bay County welcome mat in the form of an
"It" in this case is a new international airport in Bay
County, the first major airport developed in the United
States in years. "They" are home-buying retirees from the
Midwest and Northeast, time-sharing vacationers, beachfront
aficionados, spring-break revelers, real estate investors,
developers, speculators and flippers. The rush is just
As Florida counties go, Bay County is fairly small and
has seen only modest growth in recent years, with its
population expanding from about 127,000 in 1990 to 155,000
now, according to U.S. Census Bureau numbers. The county
traverses a complex of bays (St. Andrews, West, North and
East bays) on the Gulf Coast, with access to miles of
desirable beaches; it is part of the "Redneck Riviera," to
use a term no doubt frowned upon by local boosters, and it
draws vacationers and second-home buyers mainly from the
rest of the Florida Panhandle and nearby Alabama and
It's been that way for decades in Bay County. For one
thing, the Interstate system bypasses the area, with the
major east-west route I-10 connecting Pensacola to
Tallahassee, though a couple of four-lane U.S. routes go to
Panama City. More importantly, the current Panama City-Bay
County International Airport is small and its capacity is
In fact, at just over 6,300 feet, the airport's main
runway is one of the shortest used by commercial airlines in
Florida, and the runway safety area (that is, the runway
overrun)doesn't meet current FAA standards, though it was
grandfathered in. Another problem for the current airport is
that flight patterns into it are restricted by the presence
of two major Air Force bases nearby.
"It was clear by the mid-1990s that something had to be
done, and the question was whether the existing airport
could be expanded, or there needed to be a new airport, and
if so, where," says Randy Curtis, executive director of the
Panama City-Bay County Airport and Industrial District (the
airport authority). "At first, plans to expand the current
runways were seriously considered."
Map of the Bay County area in Florida.
Since the airport is hemmed in on its landward side by
residential properties, expansion would have meant expanding
into St. Andrews Bay, a prospect that conservation groups
vigorously opposed. Not only that, any runways close to the
bay are vulnerable to storm-surge damage, a risk long
acknowledged but which the hurricane season of 2005
impressed more fully on the entire Gulf Coast. Because of
these concerns, the FAA eventually nixed any expansion of
the existing facility. A new airport was the way to go.
But where? That's where Jacksonville-based St. Joe Co.
comes into this story, as a sine qua non of a new airport,
or really any major development in the area. Though it isn't
well known outside Florida, the St. Joe Co. (NYSE: JOE) is
the largest private landowner in the state, holding roughly
a million acres, which is even larger than the much more
famous Disney holdings. Most of St. Joe's land is in the
Panhandle, and includes about half of Bay County.
JOE's Florida land empire, acquired by a scion of the
DuPont family and his partners in the early decades of the
20th century, used to serve mainly as a source of raw
material for the company's paper mills. As such, the
company's holdings went largely undeveloped. But in the late
1990s, the company began to transform itself by divesting
its industrial operations and becoming a real estate
company. Since 1998, the company has developed about 4
million square feet of commercial and residential real
estate in Florida.
Early on it became apparent that the company's interests
as a landowner in Bay County and the airport authority's
interest in finding a new home dovetailed. St. Joe had the
raw land, and the airport represented a way to spur
development of the company's holdings.
The new Panama City Bay County airport will cost $312 million.
"The idea is simple, but the planning was complicated,"
says Curtis, referring to the airport relocation. With
plenty of bad examples of sprawl elsewhere in the state, the
laws governing large-scale developments were changed in 1998
with the goal of bringing some semblance of master planning
to projects as large as the redevelopment of Bay County. It
isn't clear yet if the new laws will serve as checks on
sprawl, but in any case they've helped fashion the new
Panama City-Bay County International Airport.
Instead of piecemeal zoning and approval for a new
airport and the surrounding commercial development, the
project is going to follow a blueprint known as the West Bay
Sector Plan, essentially an agreement between the state and
county about what goes where. The centerpiece of the plan,
the new airport, will go on undeveloped land near West Bay,
but not too near, to protect it from hurricane damage.
Beginning in 2001, the West Bay Sector Plan took about a
year and a half to hammer out. It included negotiations
between the state and local governments, dozens of public
hearings, and vocal input from various conservation groups,
such as the Nature Conservancy, which was brought in as an
independent consultant during the process. All together, the
plan covers roughly 75,000 acres, about 30,000 of which,
mostly waterfront along West Bay, are being reserved as a
conservation area. This set-aside is the state's "single
biggest land conservation effort by a private company,"
writes Daniel Shaw, an assistant county manager and director
of development services for Bay County. "The preservation
area included at West Bay is roughly the same size as all of
Bay County's existing cities combined."
St. Joe donated about 4,000 acres for the airport itself,
and another 9,800 acres as a conservation easement. Since
much of the rest of the land in the West Bay Sector (along
with acreage outside the plan) will be ripe for commercial
and residential development by St. Joe (or those it might
sell sites to), the donation represents an astute investment
in the company's growth as a real estate developer.
According to Jerry Ray, a spokesman for St. Joe, the company
already has entitlements for more than 1,000 acres of
commercial development and 6,000 residential units near the
new airport. That will just be the beginning for the giant
"The record of decision by the FAA on the new airport is
expected in September," Ray notes; that would represent the
final go-ahead for project. "The state permits are in hand,
the land use entitlements are in place, and the financing
for construction will be finalized after the record of
decision. The airport project has a lot of momentum now."
St. Joe donated 4000 acres for the airport itself.
If all goes according to schedule, the airport will be
completed by late 2008. Like the current airport, it will
have two runways (with expansion room for a third), but they
will be considerably longer than the existing ones. There
will also be terminals and other facilities totaling 100,000
square feet. Funding for the $312 million project will be
roughly divided in thirds between the federal and state
governments, and local sources.
"The new airport's going to be an enormous spur to growth
of this area," says Ray. "There will be a significant
increase in passenger service to and from the Midwest and
the Northeast especially. The populations of those regions
represent prime markets for residential real estate in this
part of the state, which still has a lot of room to grow."
Curtis agrees, and draws a parallel to the growth
experienced by the Ft. Myers, Fla. area in the years after
the completion of the Southwest Florida International
Airport in 1983. From 1990 to 2000, the population of Lee
County (Ft. Myers is the county seat) grew 31.6%, according
to the Census Bureau, besting the overall Florida average
population growth of 23.5% during the same period. By 2004,
Lee County's population had topped 514,000, making it the
89th-fastest growing county in the nation.
"The planning process isn't the same, but in a lot of
other ways the situation is comparable to Ft. Myers 25 years
ago," says Curtis. "The relocation of the airport is going
to be the trigger to remake the entire Bay County area."
Is PCB Ready? Feb 2005
Many people are asking this question as Panama
City Beach prepares for a condo development explosion the likes of which
Northwest Florida has never seen.
By Daphne Shannon
The condo industry in Northwest Florida is
abuzz. People are talking. But, to the surprise of many, the buzz isn't
about Destin or South Walton County, or even recent "hot property"
Perdido Key. The buzz is about Panama City Beach. Long decried as "past
its prime" and viewed by many as the area's "dirty little secret,"
Panama City Beach, with almost 20 confirmed condominium projects in the
works, is poised to go from stepsister to Cinderella in a very short
period of time.
Jimmy Lewis of Lewis Development and Management
Co. in Birmingham, Ala., has developed condominiums along Florida's
Northern Gulf Coast from Perdido Key, Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach
to Fort Walton Beach, Destin and South Walton County. Now, he is
developing Majestic Beach Towers on Panama City Beach's Front Beach
"I've been building on this coast for 20 years.
And all that time, we've been hearing that we're running out of
beach—well, now, we've really gotten to that point. Yet, people still
want to come to Florida and buy condos," Lewis said. "Honestly, I've
combed the coast, and Panama City Beach is the last horizon of
beachfront property. People go where the developers go, and right now,
the developers are going to Panama City Beach."
Redevelopment is, according to most industry
insiders, the key to Panama City Beach's boom of condo industry growth,
as more and more old beach hotels are being bought and demolished to
make room for new condo developments. For example, Majestic Beach Towers
will replace the old Majestic Motel. "We bought an old, run-down
property and are going to replace it with a great product," Lewis said.
"Panama City Beach is at the economic crossroads where a number of old
hotels have outlived their usefulness, and the gulf front they sit on is
prime. Gulf front is really what people want, and that's what Panama
City Beach has to offer through redevelopment. We're not pioneering
here—we're rebuilding. You have to look past what it looks like now and
think about what it will be."
Mel Leonard, director of building and planning
for Panama City Beach, said, "What has worked against Panama City Beach
for so long—the old, run-down hotels along the beach—seems to now be
working for it. Since the coastline is running out of new development
opportunities, developers are having to look at redevelopment. They are
saying, 'Where can we make something work?' and Panama City Beach is the
answer to that question."
Bob Warren, president/CEO of the Panama City
Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, agreed. "It's a prime opportunity.
Real estate has really skyrocketed on our beach. We see this area as the
area for growth in the state of Florida right now," Warren said, adding
that one industry official recently estimated that there is $1.2 billion
worth of construction in the works in the Panama City Beach area right
Garrett McNeil is vice president and director
of operations for Cornerstone Development Group, developers of Sterling
Beach, a condo complex currently under construction in the Panama City
"Panama City Beach already offers a lot of what
Destin has to offer—a beautiful beach, family attractions, shopping,
etc., and the city is doing a fantastic job of trying to bring more
tourists to the area. The area is experiencing a little bit of what
Destin went through a decade or so ago. Right now is the right time at
the right price in Panama City Beach. By placing Sterling Beach in
Panama City Beach, we're able to offer luxury condos—large units with
unbelievable amenities—and still deliver them to customers at a great
price, allowing them to realize a great investment," McNeil said.
"We love the market—we're very high on it," he
continued, adding that Sterling Beach will be completed in the first
quarter of 2003 and that Cornerstone is already making plans for its
next Panama City Beach condo property, Sterling Reef. He said the
development was recently made available to Cornerstone's preferred
buyers (those who have purchased through their development group
before), and 90 percent of the units, representing roughly $28 million
in sales, were sold almost immediately. "We obviously feel very strongly
about Panama City Beach," he said.
Preparing For Growth
Thousands of new condo units in Panama City
Beach are expected to bring hundreds of thousands more visitors, and
some have questioned whether Panama City Beach is ready for that kind of
evolution. As far as the city's physical structure is concerned, Lewis
does not feel Panama City Beach will miss a beat. He said, "You're going
to see a tremendous amount of influx, not only in properties, but also
in the number of people coming to this area. But, one thing we really
like about Panama City Beach is that because the city is not being newly
developed, the infrastructure is already in place," he said, noting that
Panama City Beach's three main roadway arteries—Front Beach Road, Middle
Beach Road and Back Beach Road—serve the city very well. In fact, when
asked what Panama City Beach would be like in five to 10 years, Lewis
said, jokingly, "Destin, but with better roads."
Others are not quite as exuberant as Lewis, but
they still feel that Panama City Beach has the tools needed to handle
growth in a positive manner. Leonard deals with the inner workings of
Panama City Beach's infrastructure on a daily basis and said he feels
the city is prepared and is planning properly. "So far, there's still
room to grow, and there's a certain level of impact already there
because this is redevelopment," he said. "This influx of development
will only heighten the city's infrastructure—we will have construction
that meets codes, buried utilities, sidewalks, attractive
landscaping—all positives for the city."
Don O'Donniley, director of development
services for Bay County, emphasized that development itself must step up
in order to assure that the area's infrastructure can keep pace with its
growth. He said, "We do not currently have impact fees, aside from
wholesale water impact fees, and that's going to factor into the
equation soon—development is going to have to help pay its way."
Warren said, "We had the governor [Gov. Jeb
Bush] in town the other day to speak to the TDC [Bay County Tourist
Development Council], and he voiced concerns about infrastructure
issues. We're completely broadening the scope of this destination, and
we have to be prepared for it. We have to be able to make adjustments,
and of course, we're looking for partnerships with development to do
this. I think we have some problems, but we are addressing them. And,
the positives will be tremendous."
Aside from infrastructure preparedness, some in
the industry have wondered if Panama City Beach, with a year-round
population of only around 5,000, truly understands the major changes
that are around the corner. Tom Sparks is vice president of association
operations for Edgewater Beach Resort Management and president of the
North Gulf Coast Chapter of Community Associations Institute. Edgewater
Beach Resort has been a condominium mainstay in Panama City Beach since
its inception in the early 1980s. He said, "The majority [of Panama City
Beach residents and longtime investors] are not aware of the huge
changes we are in for. This is really an explosion of properties. Some
people might say, 'Well, development's really just going to be on the
beach,' but it will really affect our whole area. It's going to be a
bridge to bridge phenomenon," Sparks said, referring to the fact that
Panama City Beach is "bookended" by the Hathaway Bridge leading to
Panama City and the Phillips Inlet Bridge that leads from Bay County
into Walton County.
Warren agreed. "I'm not certain that they are
totally prepared for this. The day-to-day person probably does not
realize the extent of the development that is going to occur."
But O'Donniley said that because of extensive
coverage by local media of the incoming development and the demise of
many of the "mom and pop" beach hotels, locals may be more prepared than
some think. "There's been quite a bit of coverage, especially in the
[Panama City] News-Herald," he said. "They understand what's going on,
and we have seen some opposition, specifically to the high
rises—concerns of over-crowdedness, sort of a 'we'll be driven out of
our house' attitude."
O'Donniley said he and other officials
understand the needs of both sides and are working to stringently
"follow the regulatory rules that are already in place" and "are looking
at a new set of regulations" addressing issues such as height limits,
zoning districts, set-backs, etc.
Lewis said, "I don't know if locals understand
exactly what is coming down the pike. But, from what I can tell, these
[developments] are being well received. I have not personally seen any
of the anti-development sentiment, which is part of living in Florida,
it seems. Some people want to close the door behind them."
Lewis said he doesn't feel Panama City Beach is
taking on too much too soon. "I don't feel like we're over building.
Markets can always change, but the well-located properties, especially,
in this case, gulf-front properties, will always do well. What we are
seeing is that the interest is there—supply meets demand."
Sparks said, "Of course, there's a little
concern that it may be too many too quickly. And, to the retirees down
at Laguna Beach [an unincorporated beach area west of Panama City
Beach], the development is a bad thing. To them, this is the end of
their quaint little village. But, it's all in your perspective.
Certainly, so many of us know the great things this growth will do for
What Does This Mean For PCB?
Ready or not, condo development is coming to
Panama City Beach in a big way, and there's no doubt that it will have a
huge impact on the city. Some in the industry have joked that Panama
City Beach seems to be struggling with a split personality—is it the
number one Spring Break Hangout in the World as The Travel Channel
claims it to be, or is it an upscale, family-oriented beach resort
destination? Well, the answer, according to some, is both—for the time
being. While Panama City Beach has long had a love-hate relationship
with its "Spring Break Headquarters" image (Spring Break does bring in
more than 500,000 visitors in less than 40 days), it's obvious that
officials are working to wean the city from its dependence on Spring
Break and value-oriented customers.
"[Growth] has the potential to change the
make-up of our visitors and get the highest and best use of our
property," Leonard said. Lewis echoed those sentiments: "What this means
for Panama City Beach is that development is going to bring in a better
Warren concluded, "Panama City Beach has always
been a value-oriented destination and that may not be the case anymore.
[In five to 10 years], what you are going to see is a destination that
has grown, one that is seeing a new clientele, and a destination that
has even more to offer in terms of retail, restaurants and attractions.
We're going to see a destination that is maturing at a rate beyond any
other destination in the state. I see a whole new Panama City Beach, a
first class destination."
SOUTHERN THEATRES STARTS
CONSTRUCTION AT PIER PARK
- Sixteen-Screen Multiplex
to be Largest in Area -
PANAMA CITY BEACH, FL
(September 12, 2006) – Simon
Property Group, Inc. (NYSE:SPG)
announced today that
Southern Theatres, LLC has
begun construction on the
Grand 16 Theatre at Pier
Park in Panama City Beach,
FL. The 16 screen-3,200-seat
multiplex movie theatre will
be the largest in the Panama
City Beach, Panama City,
Destin and Ft. Walton area.
The Pier Park Grand Theatre
will include stadium
seating, digital sound, high
back rocker seats on 18-inch
risers, three concession
areas, a specialty café and
a game room. The theatre is
scheduled to open in May
“The Grand Theatre will be a
perfect fit for our
customers at Pier Park,”
said Tim Kushner, regional
vice president of
development at SPG. “They
will be able to choose from
the most current films in a
“We are looking forward to
theatre in Pier Park. We are
confident that our patrons
will experience first-hand
our total commitment to
customer service and enjoy
watching a movie in this
theatre which features the
latest technology and
amenities available,” said
George Solomon, of Southern
Theatres, LLC. The new
theater complex will be
designed by Beck
Architecture of Dallas,
Texas. The contractor is
Mapp Construction of Baton
Pier Park is a
square-foot retail and
located on 93 acres that
covers land from Front Beach
Road (at the City Pier) to
the heavily-traveled Highway
98. Target kicks off Phase I
of Pier Park when it opens
for business in October.
Simon Property Group, Inc.,
an S&P 500 company
Indianapolis, Indiana, is a
real estate investment trust
engaged in the ownership,
development and management
of retail real estate,
primarily regional malls,
Premium Outlet® centers and
The Company's current total
market capitalization is
approximately $42 billion.
Through its subsidiary
partnership, it currently
owns or has an interest in
284 properties in the United
States containing an
aggregate of 200 million
square feet of gross
leasable area in 38 states
plus Puerto Rico. Simon also
owns interests in 52
European shopping centers in
France, Italy, and Poland; 5
Premium Outlet centers in
Japan; and one Premium
Outlet center in Mexico.
Additional Simon Property
Group information is
available at www.simon.com.
Simon Property Group, Inc.
is publicly traded on the
NYSE under the symbol SPG.
Southern Theatres, LLC
currently owns and operates
123 screens in Louisiana,
Mississippi, Texas, and
North Carolina. In addition
to Pier Park, upcoming
projects include a Grand
Theatre in Slidell, LA, New
Iberia, LA, Lafayette, LA,
and Greensboro, NC. Southern
Theatres, LLC is responsible
for the development and
daily operations of these
theatres and is backed by
Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS),
a New York and London based
investment firm. For
I was doing
some digging and found some interesting stats on
miles of world famous white sandy beaches
along the Gulf of Mexico
Direct tourist expenditures of $537 million
billion economic impact from tourism
million in accommodation sales
million in goods and services
14,000 local jobs
612,602 households within a 100 mile radius
of Panama City Beach
miles to Panama City and 41 miles to Destin
Overnight leisure travel is 77% of all
traveler spending in Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach travel parties include
3.11 persons; families account for the
largest number of travelers
average length of stay is 4.1 nights
of visitors to the area arrive via
of Panama City Beach visitors have visited
the destination more than once
Panama City Beach
Most Popular Vacation Rental Destination -
Hotels.com - 2004
Beach - American Coastal Coalition - 2002
Golf Town un the US - Golf Digest Magazine -
Beach Award - The Clean Beaches Council -
Beach in America - The Surfrider Foundation
Five "Best Beaches" - Southern Living - 2000
Beach - Dr. Beach (Stephen Letherman) - 1995
Markets for Panama City Beach Tourism
Ten States: Georgia, Tennessee, Florida,
Alabama, Ohio, Kentucky, Texas, Indiana,
Five Cities: Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville,
Market Segments: Leisure traveler, sports
market, special events winter residents, and
meetings and conventions
This article was
in the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce news (The Circuit) Nov. 2006 (click
here to see The Circuit)
completed in 2009, the new Panama
City-Bay County International Airport will open travel channels throughout
the U.S., Europe and Asia, making
Panama City Beach one of the most
destinations in the world.
*The new runway will eventually be between
10,000 and 12,000 feet. The current
has the shortest commercial runway in the
state of Florida, at about 6,300 feet.
*All major airlines have expressed great
interest in our new airport,
but the most interest
has come from Southwest airlines. They are
definitely coming to the Panhandle,
it’s just a question of where. They’re
watching our project very closely, and
say our time frame coincides with
*The longer runway will
open up our area to the
Latin American markets for
cargo operations, and will attract other
businesses and industry to our area.
*The A380 is the new jet being
manufactured by Airbus.
It can carry up to 800 passengers,
but its most practical use will be in the
cargo industry. The Vice
President of Airbus travelled
from France to meet with engineers on
our airport project over a year ago, and minor
changes were made to the design. This will
make our airport the only U.S. site that
not have to perform a retrofit to
accommodate this new plane.
UPS and FEDEX have both
ordered 10 A380s
each, and the Bay County
Economic Development Alliance is currently
with both companies about locating
a major part of their operations here.
*At 4,000 acres, the new airport site will be
larger that Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport. Approximately
1,500 acres will be developed
initially, but there will be plenty of room for
*There is industrial/commercial space already
incorporated in the design of the airport, and
St. Joe will have another adjacent industrial
/ commercial site as
well. The potential to
attract high-end, technical industry and
research and development is
as good as you’ll
find anywhere in the country. Our quality of
life, paired with improved transportation and
the business opportunities that are
available, will set the
stage for a major economic boom
in Bay County.
*This will be the first airport built since
9/11, so Homeland Security is very
interested in testing out new security
measures here. Tech companies
from around the world will see this as
somewhat of a test lab for new technology
and an opportunity to work
closely with Homeland Security.
*This project is
of major interest across the
nation and around the world
will be the first airport built in the
United States in almost 20 years. It
very long time to get through the approval
process for this type of project, and at this
time no one else is in the pipeline yet,
which means there won’t be
another airport built for
at least 10 to 15 years.
forward this page to everyone you know.
way did you know you can buy gulf front property at 70 cents on the dollar
today compared to 2005 prices?
We have all seen media notes regarding
new venues as they are released at Pier Park; however, no mention
was ever made as to the retailers, etc. that are actually planned.
So, here they are.
Pier Park ...
Pier Park is positioned to become the
'new downtown' for Panama City. It is a
900,000 square-foot/93 acre outdoor mall, running from Front Beach
Road at the
Pier, to the heavily traveled Highway 98.
The retail destination will mix higher-end shopping, dining and
Construction has begun on 'Southern Theatres' Grand 16 Theatre,
scheduled to open in summer 2007, and there is a Target store
currently open for
business. The Grand Opening of a large section of the project is
Economic Impact ...
When Pier Park opens, the trade area
population is projected to be approximately
150,000 and is expected to rise to 170,000 by 2010. The annual
growth rate of
4.5 percent will be more than four times the national average of 0.9
Restaurants and retailers scheduled to open in the development
Porch Seafood House, Reggae J's Island Grill, Ron Jon's Surf Shop,
Old Navy, Johnny Rockets, Longhorn Steakhouse, Starbucks, Dillards,
Ruby Tuesday, AmSouth Bank. VanGuard Bank, Margaritaville, Subway,
Jerry's Ice Cream, Guglielmo's Italian Restaurant, Camille's, Planet
Tanning, Coldwater Creek, White House Black Market, The Loft and
Eagle. Proposed businesses include: Black and White, Chicos,
Factory, PF Chang, Fresh Market, Bungalow's Mens Wear, Shipwreck
Day Spa, Mole Hole, Learning Express, Gymboree and Gamestop.
HOUSE REPUBLICANS PASS HISTORIC $32
BILLION PROPERTY TAX RELIEF AND REFORM
~Democrats oppose $16 billion dollars worth of
property tax relief for homeowners and businesses~
TALLAHASSEE- Today the Florida House of
Representatives, led by the Republican Majority, passed a historic
property tax relief and reform package that will
cut property taxes for
every property owner in Florida by almost $32 billion dollars statewide
over the next five years.
“Republicans have a simple message for Florida’s property
owners: help is on the way” said House Speaker Marco Rubio (R-West
Miami). “The $32 billion dollars
in relief will make a real difference
in the lives of Floridians – this isn’t just a first step forward, it is
the first giant leap forward – still, House Republicans believe more
be done. There is more waste to be cut from government, government can
provide greater value to the taxpayers, there are more taxpayer
protections that must
be put in place, and there are greater tax savings
that this Legislature can provide to Floridians.”
Added Speaker Rubio, “The only limits to our future
success as a state are the unfair limits government applies to our
people through unnecessary taxation – it will be
the charge of this
body, as long as I preside over it, to destroy those barriers to
The centerpiece of the plan is the constitutional
amendment that Florida voters will vote on January 29, 2008. House Joint
Resolution 3B will provide the greatest
savings for Florida’s homeowners
by creating a “Super Homestead” exemption which will provide an average
44% reduction on most homeowners tax bills.
The constitutional amendment
eliminates inequities in our current property tax system, provides
Tangible Personal Property (TPP) tax relief to Florida’s businesses
eliminates 77% - more than 1 million – of Florida’s small businesses
from the TPP tax rolls. businesses helps businesses by pumping more
money into our
economy, and help non-homestead owners by lowering the
barriers to homeownership, and lets property owners choose how their
homes will be taxed in the future.
“Make no mistake, anyone who voted against the
constitutional amendment voted against targeted property tax relief for
homeowners, and voted against letting the
people choose,” said Majority
Leader Adam Hasner (R-Delray Beach).
The property tax relief and reform package approved today
also includes a statutory tax relief bill, House Bill 1B, that will
immediately cut taxes and cap future tax
increases for all property
owners; limit local governments’ ability to unnecessarily raise taxes in
the future; and provides immediate savings to homeowners, second
homeowners, and commercial property owners.
The bills approved today:
HJR 3B by Representative
Cannon “Property Tax: Constitutional Relief & Reform”
billion of tax relief over five years.
The savings by property type
in 2008 are:
Homestead switching from Save Our Homes: 44% ($1,306)
Non-homestead Residential: 8% ($245)
Commercial/Industrial: 8% ($1,240)
Personal Property savings: 17% ($262)
homeowners to choose between Save Our Homes or the new plan.
No one will lose
their current Save Our Homes protections unless they choose to.
be allowed to choose between their current Save Our Homes protections or
the new, “Super Homestead” and expanded taxpayer
protections under the
This creates a
form of portability for homeowners who would otherwise lose significant
tax savings when they move.
starting over with only a $25,000 homestead exemption and zero Save Our
Homes protections, the homeowner would immediately have
exemption up to $195,000 as soon as they move in.
Creates a new
“Super Homestead” exemption to transform the inequitable Florida
property tax system.
exemption covers 75% of the first $200,000 of value and 15% of the next
maximum super exemption is $195,000.
will receive at least a $50,000 exemption.
low-income seniors will receive at least a $100,000 exemption.
$500,000 threshold is indexed to grow with changes in Florida personal
income, which generally increases 4% per year.
new $25,000 Tangible Personal Property (TPP) exemption for businesses.
immediate savings of hundreds of dollars for TPP-paying business owners.
eliminates the administrative burden of filing a tax return for $1
million of Florida’s 1.3 million businesses that pay tangible personal.
targeted relief for affordable housing and working waterfront
properties. Implements tax reform and relief for 2008 tax bills,
the Legislature votes for a special election in January 2008
HB 1B by Representative
Attkisson “Property Tax:
Immediate Statutory Relief”
meaningful and immediate tax relief for all properties in Florida
property owners save an average of 7% ($174).
residential property owners save an average of 7% ($199).
Commercial/industrial property owners save an average of 6% ($941).
personal property taxpayers save an average of 6% ($92).
local governments except school districts to cut taxes this year.
counties, and independent special districts must reduce taxes for the
2007-2008 Fiscal Year by adopting the 2006-2007 tax levy, adjusted
new construction (i.e., adopt the rolled-back rate).
Next, cities and
counties must further reduce taxes by a factor based on whether they
have recently levied property taxes responsibly or excessively,
to a statewide average. The reduction factor will be 3%, 5%, 7%, or 9%.
special districts are required to implement the 3% reduction factor.
local governments except school districts to cap annual property
tax revenue growth.
revenue growth will only be allowed to increase in proportion to
population growth (i.e., new construction) and growth of Florida
income (which averages 4% annually).
A revenue cap
creates unprecedented protections for all Florida properties
– especially commercial properties
and non-homestead residential
properties, which currently have no
taxpayers while allowing local flexibility by requiring a rigorous
procedure to override the required revenue cap.
Depending on the
extent to which the local authority wants to exceed the revenue cap,
varying supermajority votes are required.
increase requires a 2/3 vote, while a larger increase will require
either a unanimous vote or approval by local voters.
provisions authorized in the constitutional reform plan (HJR 3B).
The new “super”
homestead exemption for low-income seniors.
grandfathering provisions that allow certain homeowners to maintain Save
Our Homes benefits.
be allowed to choose between their current Save Our Homes protections or
the new, “Super Homestead” and expanded taxpayer
protections under the
The new tax
protections for affordable housing.
Market woes a matter of perspective
For international chain Engel & Völkers,
Florida has never looked better
By MICHAEL POLLICK
One of the hottest real
estate outfits in Europe is moving into Florida, cherry-picking
choice U.S. sites, including Southwest Florida, to ensure an
unending supply of high-end properties to Europeans flush with
euros and pounds.
After making a name for
itself on the Continent, the Hamburg, Germany-based Engel &
Völkers plans to open hundreds of its "property shops" aimed at
It is going into the
Hamptons on Long Island and Hyde Park, the upscale neighborhood
in Tampa. A store on Main Street in Sarasota is also in the
works, adding to the company's 270 residential property "shops"
Within the next decade,
Engel & Völkers aims to open at least 200 offices in Florida.
That goal is in stark
contrast to today's general view of the state and national real
estate market, but speaks volumes about the long-term potential
for Florida property.
Keen to satisfy wealthy
European clients whose euros and pounds give them immense
purchasing power in the struggling U.S. market, Engel & Völkers
is pushing forward as other firms are retrenching. The company
is moving in despite all the talk of the crisis in sub-prime
mortgages, high foreclosure rates, people "upside down" in their
two-year-old home purchases and sagging home sales.
Timo Khammash, the Engel &
Völkers executive driving the push into Florida, has worked for
the company for more than a decade and has relatives in Sarasota
-- he even attended Sarasota High School for a few months.
He shrugs off the current
state of the market.
"We had more and more of
our clientele asking us, 'Why aren't you here?'" he said.
His headquarters is in
Naples, but Khammash does laundry in Sarasota. He is one of
three managers on the road six days a week courting potential
When they opened the doors
to their Punta Gorda property shop in October, Martin and Hilde
Block, along with partner Greg Loomis, became the first Florida
franchisee of Engel & Völkers.
They also are setting up a
storefront on Main Street in Sarasota.
Like the Engel & Völkers
shops from Argentina to Dubai, the downtown Punta Gorda store is
decked out with white wood trim on the outside, giving it
somewhat of an old-world look.
Inside, the store is
modern and uncluttered, with furniture that is predominately
Just as consumers are
brand-conscious in picking restaurants and coffee shops, Engel &
Völkers executives think they can train potential customers to
be brand-conscious in picking a real estate firm, and Block says
that brand loyalty is already paying off for him.
The Punta Gorda office is
preparing for a visit from a German woman living in Rio De
Janiero who is interested in buying a Sarasota-area home. She
called the Engel & Völkers agent she knew in Germany, who
quickly referred her to the Punta Gorda office.
Since she is a past
client, the referral package included not just her name and the
properties in which she expressed an interest, but also a
"We know who this person
is before they even come in the door," Dailey said. "We know
they can afford it. We know what their tastes are. We know what
their status is within their community, and whatever else we are
supposed to be sensitive toward."
At Engel & Völkers, the
system and the approach to service is paramount. All agents
receive the same training and are expected to use it to provide
clients with a consistent experience. They use identical
software, both for keeping track of clients and for making and
getting referrals from the other shops.
"If we sell the house to
someone referred to us by the property shop in Prague, a
percentage of our earnings goes to that shop," Martin Block
Pounds of euros
The U.S. dollar has been
in a gradual decline since the beginning of the decade,
especially compared with currencies such as the euro and the
While that is bad for
Americans, eroding their global purchasing power, it makes U.S.
properties look absolutely juicy to Europeans.
For them, the primary
competition for a piece of Florida beachfront might be coastal
There, real estate has
appreciated strongly and "there are no currency discounts," for
European buyers, said Lawrence Yun, senior economist of the
National Association of Realtors.
In July, the dollar hit a
26-year low as measured by the British pound, and an all time
low against the euro. It takes roughly $1.37 to buy a euro, and
$2.05 to buy a British pound.
"From a British point of
view, Florida real estate is selling at a 40 percent discount,"
Yun said during a recent trip to Southwest Florida.
Dailey, the Engel &
Völkers franchisee in Naples, knows full well the impact of the
"In many cases, people
from Europe or Great Britain can buy a million-dollar beachfront
property for, in essence $500,000, when you consider the
exchange rate discrepancies and the soft market," Dailey said.
"They are more bullish on
us than we are."