FAA's NextGen

The other day I posted on the FAA’s NextGen reform. The reform addresses many aspects of the aviation industry, including the new airport, however something else it addresses is the rapidly becoming overwhelmed radar network. Technologically, the aviation industry has never seen much improvement with regards to aircraft location tracking with the GPS or ADS-B, as it is called having been in the works for the last 10 years.

Anyway, Popular Mechanics just wrote an article speaking into the technology of ADS-B giving a little background and an explanation of how it works. And yes, I said how it works, as in present tense. They have been testing the system, with great success I might ad, on Alaska Air. UPS has already began utilizing this technology and Southwest Airlines expects to install the system on its entire fleet of 737’s by next year. (more)

Pier Park on time

I had the great pleasure of attending a tenant meeting yesterday for Pier Park and was excited to get new information. Forgive the bullet point style if you are a reader, but sometimes I just like to give the information the way it is:

  • Target has reported that their store at Pier Park is in the top 10% of their nationwide sales portfolio.
  • Ron Jon Surf Shop expects to take possession in the next couple of weeks, this will be their sixth location nationwide.
  • Borders Books and Music will be the 1st in the Panhandle.
  • 200,000 sq ft to be turned over to tenant coordination within 30 to 45 days
  • Starbucks to be opened October 1
  • Grand opening for the Boardwalk area on 2/15/07
  • I think they said that Dillards and JCPenny’s will be open March 1, 2008 (Simon, please correct me if I’m wrong)
  • Half of all Pier Park to be opened before year’s end
  • ULTA will be the first in the Panhandle, with the closest being in Orlando or Atlanta

Personally, I’m super stoked. Up at the front across from the dedicated beach will be Ron Jon’s and Margaritaville along with Reggae J’s and Back Porch Seafood House and another restaurant that has yet to be announced. I was told that some of these restaurants will have second floor outside seating that will overlook the Gulf.

Along the boardwalk will be expansive, open areas in front of the stores to provide room for playing and gathering. It was described as a park-like setting. In the meeting, Paul Ajdaharian, of Simon kept talking about “feel good first, buy later”. Their emphasis towards the tenants is make the customers feel good and the sales will take care of themselves. This is awesome because it provides for a great place to, just be.

All along, Simon has talked about creating a great place for gathering. I can say they’ve already gotten off to a great start with the concerts in the park. My family and I went a couple of weeks ago and it was packed. There was barely enough room on the lawn for all the people, and the space is no small space. I can tell you right now: Pier Park WILL be a great place for gathering.

Ajdaharian said that he was unsure of the exact percentage, but if he said that if he had to guess he would say that Pier Park is over 80% leased. “They cannot believe their sales”, Ajdaharian said of Panera Bread.

I’m very excited about Pier Park, as I know many of you are, and I’m very glad to see it moving along so quickly.



Possible Delay on Airport Grant, NextGen Air Trans Reform

Douglas Murphy, head of the southern region of the FAA, was in town last week reviewing plans for the new airport. The current budget plan will expire at the end of September, and at that time, a new budget plan will go into effect possibly delaying the airport 6 to 12 months.

The new plan, dubbed The Next Generation Air Transportation System Financing Reform Act of 2007 (what a mouthful), amongst many other things, will eliminate the domestic ticket tax and frequent flyer tax and instill a larger tax on commercial jet fuel and aviation gasoline.

Technological improvements will include an upgrade from radar to sophisticated gps tracking systems installed in each aircraft that will constantly relay positioning not only to a central control, but also to other planes. Follow the link above for more info.

Back to the airport: Douglas Murphy, while here reconfirmed the FAA’s commitment to the airport relocation and was quoted by the News Herald that it makes sense, and will attract new airlines and possibly low-cost carriers.

Pier Park – Concerts in the Park

This is a little old, but I was thinking about it, so I thought I would “blog”. A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I had the great pleasure of attending the Concerts in the Park at Pier Park, and let me say: it was packed.

We had no idea that so many people knew about it, much less showed up. I could be off, but I would say there was at least 1000 people there. This very much surprised me here in little ‘ol Panama City Beach. I don’t even remember the band, but it was awesome to be at a place with so many other people from our area.

For the last two years, my wife and I have been saying we were going to begin going every Thursday, and for the last two years, the summer ended before we got to go. We will definitely be making it a point to spend more time there.

For the schedule of bands, visit the Panama City Beach’s Chamber web site.

posted by Jason at 9:11 PM

Bids on old Panama City Airport Site

In a meeting at 10 am today at the current airport, the Airport Authority is expected to award the old airport site to a purchasing bidder. The board has been reviewing the bids for several months.

The three bidders are:

PCA Development Group – $61 million up front and $14 million over the next 14 years totaling $75 million

Community Airport Redevelopment (from Utah) – $60 million with $10 million at contract

RMC Investors – $56.5 million

The Old Airport Site is Sold

In the meeting that was held this morning, the old airport site was awarded to the Pittsburgh-based group, PCA Development. The final price was $99 million with $61 million at closing and $38 million over the next 30 years to come from land/property sale proceeds.

Part of the deal includes a letter of credit from PCA that the airport authority will be able to borrow against during construction of the new airport.

The old airport site is 715 acres. Google maps location.

Airport Awaits 404 Permit, Airport in the Orlando Sentinel

Apparently there has been some sort of “unauthorized activity” at the new airport site that the Army Corps of Engineers have to look into. The unauthorized activity could include heavy vehicle traffic, and the Corps need to see if there has been any alterations to the land.

Another issue is stemmed from a letter from the NRDC, a New York based environmental group that apparently knows what is best for our area and it’s natural resources. Their concern is the area’s native cypress trees.

There is no set time frame as to when the permit will be issued, although Airport Executive Director Randy Curtis has expressed no real concern and expects the permit to come through soon.

On June 25, 2007, an article was ran in the Orlando Sentinel written by Fred Werner, a pilot from Panama City and President of Friends of PFN. The article has been described by the Beach Chamber of Commerce as wildly inaccurate and touts several non-substantiated “facts”.