Big things are happening on the Emerald Coast!

Enjoy Emerald Coast

Big things are happening on the Emerald Coast!

Panama City Beach partners with an art group to install marine life statues

A local group hopes to ignite some community engagement through a project to “grow the arts” in Panama City Beach.
In an area dominated by tourism, Helen Ferrell, spokeswoman for the Sunshine Art Center, believes it’s time for the city to focus more on its residents and give them some artistic freedom.
It was this idea that paved the way for a recent partnership between her group and the city, which will work to install marine life statues around PCB that will be painted by select members of the community.
“We’re always doing something that has to do with our tourists, so we want to really do something that has to do with our community,” Ferrell told officials Thursday during a city council meeting.
Dubbed “See Life,” the project will be largely funded by a $5,000 grant from the St. Joe Company and a $7,500 donation from PCB. The group hopes to also attract other donations from local businesses.

Okaloosa County announces plans to upgrade Santa Rosa Boulevard on Okaloosa Island

Area residents soon will be asked to help determine what kind of major upgrades should be made to the Gulf-front Santa Rosa Boulevard.
At a Monday press conference, Okaloosa County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel said lane reconfigurations, roundabouts, parking additions, and sidewalk, drainage, and landscaping improvements are among the upgrades county officials are considering making to the 2-mile-long boulevard on Okaloosa Island.
The county has four conceptual design renderings that each feature a set of potential upgrades. The public is invited to meet with county officials and choose their favorite concept at 6 p.m. on Aug. 27 at the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Convention Center.
“We are not wedded to one concept,” said Ketchel, whose district includes Okaloosa Island. “We want to hear what you want.”
Each potential upgrade will help update the Santa Rosa Boulevard corridor, Ketchel said. She said many people have complained about it having uneven sidewalks, poor traffic flow in the summer, not enough parking and insufficient landscaping.
County officials will know the project’s design and construction timeframes once the upgrades are chosen, County Engineer Scott Bitterman said.
“It’s really hard to tell (how long the overall project will take) without knowing what we are building,” he said.

Panama City Beach officials to improve sidewalks on Back Beach Road

Panama City Beach officials are planning to improve safety for pedestrians along the back beach road.
Officials say the city council approved a plan to build a sidewalk on the north side of Panama City Beach Parkway from Nautilus Street to Pier Park. Officials say they are also looking forward to working with FDOT and Bay County to find more ways to add sidewalks along Back Beach Road.
“In the near future, we’re going to see the expansion of Panama City Beach Parkway or Back Beach Road going from four lanes to six lanes. Sidewalks will also be included be included in those plans. Hopefully, sooner than later that is going to happen,” said Panama City Beach City Manager Tony O’Rourke.

Panama City Beach city leaders release strategic plan

Panama City Beach City Leaders have laid out a draft for their strategic plan for the next several years.
City officials say this is a roadmap developed by the city and community to build a town they would like to see in the next five to 10 years.
Officials say some of the priorities of the plan are transportation, public safety and increasing financial resiliency.
“This allows us to set out some goals and have the community involved in setting those goals. Tie that to our budget for the next five years and actually plan what needs to get done. This is very forward-looking it’s something that involves community it involves staff,” said Panama City Beach Councilman Geoff McConnell.
Officials say they plan to reevaluate the plan over the next several years.
They also aim to create a business plan for the city council to evaluate in October to align with the budget for next year.

St. Joe, BRW MidGrove to Build Boutique Hotel in Panama City Beach

The St. Joe Co. and BRW MidGrove LLC will build The Lodge 30A, a boutique hotel in Panama City Beach. The property will be situated on Scenic County Highway 30A adjacent to the planned mixed-use development Greenway Station. Amenities at the three-story hotel will include a fitness center and a pool. St. Joe Resort Operations LLC will manage the property. Site development on The Lodge 30A is expected to begin immediately, and the parties anticipate the hotel will open in early 2022.

The new Seagrove Beach development includes commercial properties, boutique hotel

The communities around Scenic Highway 30A continue to grow, bringing with it more developments.
The St. Joe Company is building a new boutique hotel in Seagrove Beach.
Corporate Director of Marketing Mike Kerrigan said The Lodge 30A will be a great addition to the area. ”There’s a lot of vacation rental options, but not a lot of hotel options, so we think this will be a great option for folks who are looking for that hotel experience right on Scenic Highway 30A,” said Kerrigan.
South Walton visitors we spoke to say they believe developments like this are inevitable, given the popularity of beach towns along 30A.
”I’m sure that’s bound to happen; a lot of these vacant areas are going to be developed anyway, so something nice would be beneficial to the area,” said Heidi Holmes, who is visiting South Walton.
Kerrigan added the three-story hotel and commercial properties will still fit in with the surroundings, and they will work with county officials to make sure parking is self-sufficient.
”The outdoors is such an important part of not only the local experience here but also the vacation experience, and having a trailhead right there at Greenway Station that leads right into Point Washington State Forest, that’s literally right outside the doors of the hotel and of course, only a couple minutes from the beach, is going to be a great opportunity for travelers,” said Kerrigan.

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