, Panama City Beach is undergoing a massive growth and
redevelopment explosion at the moment. As of early 2006, 114 new developments are underway or
have recently been completed, representing 26,762 new units with the removal of 3,728 old units, for a
net of 23,075 new units - most with completion schedules set by winter of 2007. Twenty of these
developments have been completed or have the first phase completed. Many of these resorts will
combine residential space with a collection of enchanting eateries, exhilarating attractions and chic retail.
A new skyline of distinctive architecture fills the horizon, from classic seaside bungalows to sleek
Caribbean-style resorts. Whether strolling, shopping, dining, dancing or people-watching is your thing,
Pier Park-the 900 square foot entertainment complex spanning the Gulf of Mexico to Highway 98-will be
fully opened by summer of 2007, filled with irresistible cafes, galleries, shops, restaurants and a state-ofthe-
art 16-screen movie theater. "Pier Park will be the new downtown Panama City Beach," states Paul
Ajdaharian, Regional Vice President of Simon Property Group, the project's developer. If you love to
golf, try out the greens at any one of Panama City Beach's five champion golf courses. If you're into
swimming, check out the new $4 million Aquatic Center at Frank Brown, where new hiking trails have
also recently been cleared. New museums, theaters, galleries and parks seem to be arriving on the scene
daily. Two major "economic development initiatives" are being developed at Interstate 10 and Highway
79, a wildlife park and a theme park. The names of these projects could not be announced at this
publication's press time, but a press conference by the developers on May 31st will announce the details
to the world.
Despite all this growth, the real estate market in Panama City Beach has been attacked in recent months.
As with many things in life, a description of the state of things depends on who you ask. Some feel the
market has "hit a trough," and blame greed as the reason for the stagnation of condo sales. In the past
several years "a building frenzy that outpaced even the feverish speculative buyers who swarmed here
from places like Birmingham and Atlanta" has taken place, wrote the Atlanta Journal Constitution in
April. But many feel the market has finally leveled off, and the moderation is good.
"Real estate is always a good investment," says Teresa Dyer, President of the Bay County Association of
Realtors. "It's now both a seller's and a buyer's market." Not to mention the fact that anything on the
beach will always go up in value. Bob Pirrung, a realtor at Prudential Shimmering Sands, had a man ask
him if he thought the area was a just splash in the pan, not really a good place to invest. "I asked him if
he had noticed all the new banks coming into the area and the branches popping up like mushrooms all
over the Panama City and Panama City Beach area," Bob tells. "After a moment, he said yeah....Well,
banks go where the action is, and the action is only just beginning. I think the saying is money chases
In March the Forbes/Slatin Report acknowledged that Bay County is about to become one of the fastest
growing areas in the nation, declaring that the adage "Build it and they will come" occasionally happens
in real life. Here, "it" is the new Bay County International Airport, scheduled to break ground later this
year and be completed in 2009, and "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 beginning," it observes. Rush indeed...in addition to opening
direct travel channels from all over the nation, the European market and the rest of the world, the new
airport will create an estimated 14,000+ jobs for Bay County and generate hundreds of millions in
additional revenue. In May, Money Magazine on CNN.com reported that Panama City Beach is the top
city forecasted for the fastest growth in the nation, where prices are expected to rise 21 percent from
June 2006 to June 2007. (Other Florida cities in the top ten include Lakeland and Ocala.)
Still a best kept secret.
One Ohio resident, who has bought and sold real estate in Panama City Beach for years, cites twoGoing to ' are the key words
explanations for the area's bright future: the new airport and the affordable real estate prices. "The new
airport should start a frenzy of buying in this area," he says. "Just a shovel in the ground should bring
the prices up." He observes the popularity of East Coast real estate in the European marketplace,
namely to Germans and Brits. "They buy the East Coast like crazy. When they see Panama City
Beach's prices, they're going to suck up this property like no tomorrow!" '
here.most of the world - and even the country - still don't know about our little slice of paradise. Theovernighters
Northerners, he adds-referring to three of the top feeder northern and mid-western states, Ohio,
Michigan and Indiana-have long been buying Fort Myers and Naples at $1,100 per square foot.
Panama City Beach is about half of that.
"The best way to predict the future is to create it," states City Planner Mel Leonard, who described the
CRA's (Community Redevelopment Agency) "facelift of Front Beach Road" at the Chamber's Friday at
the Beach breakfast in February. The eight-mile stretch of Front Beach Road, beginning around
Laketown Wharf and traveling westward, will begin to transform into a more pedestrian and peoplemoving
zone within two to three years with the addition of sidewalks, bike paths, benches, street lamps,
tropical landscaping and a multi-modal transportation system which will run continuously throughout
the beach, joined to a central garage.
There's certainly a lot to love about Panama City Beach, and it's no surprise that tourism is Panama City
Beach's largest industry. With its 27 miles of white sand beaches and beautiful emerald water, over
seven million visitors spend an estimated $1.29 billion annually while visiting "The World's Most
Beautiful Beaches." Over four million