Panama City Beach accepts apartment complex, will not be housing for labor

PANAMA CITY BEACH – Although a new apartment complex is around the corner, it is unlikely to help Panama City Beach address its shortage of affordable housing.

At a meeting of the Panama City Beach planning board last week, officials approved the construction of a 236-unit apartment complex on 7.5 acres near the intersection of Hills and Front Beach roads.

According to information from the meeting, the development will feature competitive rates in the market. However, Susan West, president of the Central Panhandle Association of Realtors, said she did not believe it was aimed at working-class residents.

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“This is very unlikely to be considered affordable housing or for labor given that it (will) be within walking distance of the beach,” West said. “It will probably be housing that will be needed and new construction that will still be needed (in PCB), but it probably won’t be in the price range that will benefit our workforce.”

The meeting agenda indicates that the complex will be built south of the Summerwood Subdivision. It will include a building with a courtyard and amenity area, all of which will be “part of a future development planned by Towne of Seahaven”. This will feature additional residential, commercial and hospitality features.

The resort will also have a resort-style swimming pool, meeting spaces, green areas and a dog park.

‘Prime real estate’ means new units won’t be ‘affordable’

While the apartment’s goal may be to offer rates comparable to other resorts in the area, West said it likely won’t be “affordable,” given that standard rental prices in Panama City Beach are already too high for many Bay County residents.

The new resort will be located within walking distance not only of restaurants along Front Beach Road, but also of the Gulf of Mexico.

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“It’s prime real estate,” West said. “The cost of land in this area will not allow the cost of (his units) to be ‘affordable’.”

After Category 5 Hurricane Michael hit the Panhandle in October 2018, lack of workforce housing was a hot topic in Bay County, especially Panama City Beach.

Many hospitality and retail workers in the area are forced to live on the other side of town because they cannot find accommodation in the city that fits their budget. West said this new complex probably won’t do much to solve that problem.

“I doubt the apartment prices will meet the needs of the majority of Panama City Beach’s workforce,” West said. “Even the prices of apartments at market value on the beach are not very affordable.”

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