Aliens to Invade Panama City Beach

comicconIf you’ve ever dreamed being a member of the Vulcan race or currently own a Komo Val model Klingon battleship or just love Science Fiction in all its shape-shifting forms, The Wrath of Con : Science Fiction Convention and Film Festival is your ticket to “boldy” having a blast. The Panama City Beach event will be held at the Bay Point Marriott Golf Resort & Spa and will be littered with celebrity appearances with a guest list that includes “Hercules” and “Andromeda” star Kevin Sorbo, “True Blood” cast member John Billingsley, J.G. Hertzler from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and loads more.

This event won’t be all about the Klingons and Vulcans though. You’ll enjoy awesome amateur films from talented film students, big time table top and video gaming and all sorts of entertainment and collectibles. You can expect appearances by Ghost Hunters, authors, artists, filmmakers and more throughout the weekend!

Individual day passes from the event are $15.00 for Friday, $30.00 for Saturday and $15.00 for Sunday. The event begins May 29 – 31st. For more information on the event please click here.

Summer Gas Price Projections Encourage Travel

Flashbacks of 2008 gas prices chilled spines throughout Memorial Day weekend as costs jumped at the pump from the $2.20 national average. The popular Circle K, at the entrance of the Strip on Front Beach topped out at $2.49 for regular unleaded for the weekend, 13 cents higher than the weekend’s national average of $2.36. Still, that’s $1.44 a gallon cheaper than a year ago when fears of an oil shortage sent energy prices soaring. Cheaper gas means more driving, which bodes well for the Panama City Beach’s summer tourism season.

Last summer’s oil shortage cut 2008 travel significantly. Recently released Energy Department data says, November to November last year, U.S. motorists drove 53.2 billion fewer miles than they did over the same period a year earlier. Gas prices in 2008 affected travelers deeply. GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media polls showed 54 percent of Americans cut back travel in 2008 because of gas prices. But, the Energy Information Administration’s April 2009 report says retail prices for April through September in 2009 are projected to average $2.23/gallon. With that 40% decrease in the cost of gas, 2009 summer travel should see a significant boost.

AAA travel and auto group forecasted a 1.5 percent rise in travel compared with 2008 for the U.S. Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial beginning of the traditional summer driving season. The trend is expected to continue during the major summer travel holidays of the Fourth of July and Labor Day as lower fuel prices resuscitate the sensibility for folks to take a vacation.

If these predictions hold true, Panama City Beach should be a huge beneficiary of the travel trend. Drivers to Panama City Beach this Memorial Day weekend said the gas prices definitely impact their travel plans. “Gas prices change everything,” said Cindy Matheny, who drove to the Panama City Beach from Troy, Alabama to enjoy the weekend. She, with a car packed with kids, filled the tank of her van at the Chevron on the corner of North Lagoon and Joan Avenue. “We’ve come to Panama City Beach every summer. The price of gas determines how many trips we’ll take. You really have to weigh your options these days. Gas is still cheaper than last year and this economy needs the help.”

Flowrider Weeks away from Opening!

_mg_7515_2Located off of Miracle Strip Loop in Panama City Beach, the new Flowrider attraction we’ve all been waiting for is coming closer to opening each day.  Miracle Strip Loop is right across from Wal-Mart on the Beach and the Shubee Flowrider is in the center of the “loop.”  The Flowrider is a stationary structure that is shaped with a smooth slope that provides the ideal surf conditions with a special board as water is thrusted over the shape.

Ok, so maybe “weeks” is a little of a stretch, but the projected open date should come end of June, depending on the weather.

Just late last week the concrete form was poored for the Flowrider structure.  12 feet tall at the back, the structure goes about 6 feet into the ground and will house the monstrous equipment that is responsible for pumping 75,000 gallons of water each and every minute over a shape that is said to form a perfect wave.  The material is a “composite membrane riding surface” that is “soft and flexible like a trampoline,” padding your fall, should you feel the need to. I read the water travels over the surface at 25 to 35 mph.

Reading around, it would seem that the Flowrider puts surfers, skaters, snowboarders and skimmers on “equal” ground, er- water.  The board is different than a skim or surf board, picture a larger skateboard, with no wheels or trucks and not as much curvature on the nose or tail.

The Flowrider being installed here will be a “double” Flowrider, with a capacity of 55,000 gallons.

The concrete form that will house the Flowrider requires a larger than usual cure time and should be ready next week sometime.  When its ready, they’ll pour the rest of the concrete and the steel building should go up pretty quick.

No word on pricing yet, but I did hear talk of 24 hour marathon runs during peak high seasons and hints at some competitions.  You can be sure that you’ll find all the updates here.  This will definitely be a cool addition to our growing area.

Pier Park Summer Concert Series Schedule

The 2010 Summer Concert Series Schedule has been announced.  Click here to view the schedule.

052509_pierpark_summer_concerts_smallDust off those ears and be sure to show up wax free for the summer concert series Thusday nights at Aaron Bessant Park at Pier Park in Panama City Beach.  The fourth year running, I’m always pleasantly surprised at the phenomenal turnout each week.

If you are looking for an awesome way to spend some outdoors time with your family, this is the place to go.  From 7 to 9 pm every Thursday, bands from Reggae to Blues to New Grass to R&B will be lighting up the stage and filling the air with sweet music.

The first of the twelve series shows will be on June 4th and carry through the summer to August 20th.  Don’t forget to bring your picnic blanket, picnic dinner and coolers!


De Lions of Jah – Raggae – June 4th

Eric Lindell – Blues/Rock – June 11th

Rollin in the Hay – New Grass – June 18th

Cyril Neville (of the Neville Brothers) – R&B/Rock – June 25th

The Lee Griffin Band – R&B/Rock – July 2nd

PBS – New Orleans Fund – July 9th

The Legendary JC’s – Soul/R&B – July 16th

King Cotton Blues Band – Blues – July 23rd

The Donnie Sundal Project – Variety – July 30th

Beachmice – Eclectic Acoustic – August 6th

Heat and the Zydeco Gents – Zydeco – August 13th

Geneva – 80’s Rock –

Visual Arts Center to Close?

Unless the Visual Arts Center of Northwest Florida (VAC) raises a “significant level of donations” within the next two weeks, it will be forced to suspend operations for an indefinite period starting May 31, 2009.  Having somewhat to do with the national economic crisis, the Visual Arts Center has seen reductions in membership, Museum gate receipts, and in the number of students enrolling in its various educational programs.  Despite operating with minimal staff, they are still operating at a deficit.

Over the past few months the VAC Board had vigorously pursued $60,000 in emergency funding from the Bay County Commission to complement funding already provided by the City of Panama City.  Unfortunately, the Commission felt overly constrained by the estimated reduction in upcoming property tax revenues and could not address the request at this time.

The VAC, in conjunction with the Downtown Improvement Board (DIB), just completed the first Downtown Festival of the Arts, a successor event to the former Spring Festival of the Arts.  Over sixty artists from throughout the Southeast exhibited and sold their work in a juried competition that awarded $6,000 in prizes.  The VAC had also contracted for the U.S. premier of a new exhibit, “In Search of Norman Rockwell’s America” which had been planned for an eight week run beginning in mid-June.  In recent years the Museum’s summer exhibitions targeted tourism, like the highly successful Titanic Artifact exhibition held in 2007 that saw more than 25,000 visitors. The Rockwell exhibit was expected to bring similar crowds.  The economic impact of cancelling the exhibit is estimated at $400,000.

Originally the City Hall, the VAC credits its beginnings to 17 artists who formed an association in 1955 for the purpose of exhibiting and promoting the visual arts in Bay County.  In 1986 the Panama City Art Association and the Downtown Improvement Board received a $700,000 grant to renovate the Old Panama City City Hall, police station and jail and transformed it into permanent gallery space.  The Visual Arts Center offers the only museum experience in the area and serves a seven county region.

Please support our local Visual Arts Center.

VAC Web Site

Episode #7 – Dirt Cheap Like New Home

The Beach Show is your ONLY internet TV show all about Real Estate on Panama City Beach.

Remember, it doesn’t cost anything to work with us if you are a buyer.

Call us at 866-994-1770 to see these properties or for anything else you need regarding real estate in Panama City Beach.

Show Notes

Deal 1 – Splash

  • List Price: $265,000
  • Square Feet: 1,074
  • Price/SqFt: $246.74
  • 2 Bedrooms, 2 Bath
  • Completed in 2006
  • Splash is well known for its stellar occupancy rates. The first summer season it was open to the public (I think 2007) I interviewed the GM of the onsite rental manager and he said they averaged 90% occupancy all summer. This is a foreclosure listing and the cheapest in the building (per sf). The condo is in good shape, although it needs some appliances. You’re paying for the amenities and the best rental capability on Panama City Beach.

Deal 2 – Ocean Ritz

  • List Price: $265,000
  • Square Feet: 1,322
  • Price/SqFt: $200.45
  • 3 Bedrooms, 3 Bath
  • Completed in 2006
  • Ocean Ritz is a quiet condominium tower with just over 60 condos total. All of the condos are either 3 or 4 bedrooms and location is perfect, right in the middle of Panama City Beach. The square foot is nice and the balcony is huge. The price per square foot on this condo makes this a real steal. Features include custom cabinets, granite countertops, 6″ baseboards and only 3 condos per floor.

Deal 3 – Off Thomas Drive

  • List Price: 167,900
  • Square Feet: 1,260
  • Price/SqFt: 133.25
  • 3 Bedrooms, 2 Bath
  • Built in 1995
  • This home is located just off of Thomas Drive on East Panama City Beach. If you are looking for a great starter or rental home, this is the one for you. The current owner has put in new everything down to the kitchen sink; new a/c, fixtures, stainless steel appliances, carpet, and tile. For the price, you just can’t go wrong, especially for something you don’t have to do anything to in order to move in. Of course, the fact that it’s three blocks from the beach and all the surrounding houses look great could help too.

Call us at 866-994-1770 to see these properties or for anything else you need regarding real estate in Panama City Beach.

Sick and Tired of Losing Money?

IT seems that there are a lot of people excited about the market and sometimes buyers want to venture out on their own to purchase property whether it be by auction or a regular sale. There are some rather convincing reasons to use a Realtor to help you wade through fact and fiction and what is really a deal and what is just great marketing. To help you make that decision to use a” Realtor or not” let me give you some good motivation.

  1. A Realtor can help you determine what property would best serve your personal needs whether it be a straight investment or just a home for your family.
  2. A Realtor is more able to negotiate the price of a home on your behalf given that she knows the values of the local market. She also will make sure that you are pre-qualified so you will actually be looking at properties that will work for your unique situation. In addition, often times, a Realtor is better equipped and more experienced in negotiating real estate transactions.
  3. Home buyers almost never pay a commission to the Realtor therefore you get professional guidance and advice and a better deal on your new home with no cost to you. The only time a buyer would pay a Realtor commission is when agreed upon in advance, but in almost every case, the real estate commission is paid by the seller. Keep in mind ESPECIALLY when it comes to auctions YOU DO NOT GET a break by not using your Realtor. Your buyers premium is 10% whether you use a Realtor or not. Make sure you give them a call before you attend an auction and use their wisdom of the market and the property. For example, at the Island Reserve auction last Saturday, there were several examples of a little good timing and some sound advice saved in excess of $20,000.
  4. This is a big one and I have seen the sad results of this one from friends. It is important especially if you are not from the area to have a local Realtor who is familiar with the neighborhood that would best suit your needs as a buyer.

So basically a knowledgeable Realtor can actually save you a dollar or two and besides give them a call because if they are doing it they love what they do and they get so excited to share it with you!!! I actually wrote this because I got a really sweet call from one of our viewers that was not quite sure if it would cost her extra as a buyer for us to help her and I thought I just better clear that up.

We’re not going to beat around the bush here, we’re trying to make a living selling real estate, but we wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t what we love. First and foremost, we are relationship people. We are here to help you find what you are looking for. Many times we have turned people away from things and sacrificed commissions because it wasn’t what our buyer was looking for. We are always fair and honest, and if you ever have any questions, you can call us any time. And I mean, you can call us for ANY questions regarding real estate, and you don’t have to feel obligated to work with us. We just want to help you save money and buy your dream.

Thanks so much for watching our little show and for all your kind words….. we love it.

Home Affordability Index Up to 72.5%

Thirty year mortgage rates have been attempting to push through the 5% ceiling over the past few days as continued gains in the stock market have beaten up on bond prices. Jumbo rates remain frustratingly in the 6.875% range stifling any potential recovery in the high-end home sector. Government loan rates for thirty-year mortgages are now all in line with conventional rates hanging right around 5% for the past several weeks for VA, FHA and Rural Development. High-rise condo financing remains extremely difficult to obtain here in Florida though some local banks are offering in-house portfolio ARMs such as my 5/1 and 3/1 to try and help second-home buyers take advantage of the incredible deals out there right now.

We’ve had some more mixed news on the housing front as builder confidence sank to an eight-month low while the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index showed an increase in home affordability in the first quarter to 72.5% making it the best time in two decades to buy a home. Housing starts for April fell 12.8% but, upon closer inspection of the numbers, most of that decline was in apartment and condominium construction while single family home starts actually ticked up slightly for the month.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-05-19

  • And the countdown to 30 has begun. #
  • just realized that my darn brightkite wasn’t sending the pictures from the island reserve auction: #
  • The old Fiest Motel. Sad, sad, sad. #
  • Be sure to check for all the live update notes for the island reserve auction. #
  • wow, beautiful day for an auction. they skies are clear, the weather warm. can’t wait! #
  • #
  • just realized my blog wasn’t posting updates to twitter. sorry I’ve been leaving you guys in the dark, #
  • Plans are in place and the campaigns launch may 18th. Let the rebranding begin! #
  • Tdc Website live now. #
  • New commercial ad really rebrands the beach. #
  • Plans to use the new airport to brand PCB as a year-round destination. #
  • New beach safety signs and a text update system coming soon. New landscaping at pcb entrances. #
  • Circus by the sea… Coming back? No way. #
  • What’s “Suspect Account” as it pertains to bed tax accounts? #
  • Bed Tax numbers down from last year, but up from 2007. #
  • Rolled called. Not very many people in attendance on this eve of the summer season. #
  • At the tdc meeting ready for good news on current and future PCB marketing efforts. #
  • At bootleg barbq in pier park. Starving and ready for my mouthwatering pulled pork sandwich #

Farewell To The Fiesta

fiesta31Back in 2003, nine Spring Breakers from Missouri Valley College stayed in room 121 at the Fiesta Motel. For them, the Fiesta Motel’s room 121 was headquarters for a vacation they’ll talk about long after they are married with children, retelling their Panama City Beach fun at dinner parties and get-togethers. Only three months later a family of four occupied room 121. The story they told the front desk was that they’d been married on the Fiesta Motel back deck ten years prior and stayed in that same room every year. They came back because they wanted their kids to see it and to lounge around on the “World’s Most Beautiful Beach.” When they departed, the Fiesta Motel staff gave them the room’s door plate as a souvenir. Winter of the same year, room 121 was the seasonal home for a retired Canadian couple. All their PCB friends who they’d met over the years still came back to the same place and stayed in the same rooms. It was truly, their home away from home.

Sometime in 2009 the Fiesta Motel, which to many is nothing more than an eyesore on a developing and changing beach, will finally be rubble, replaced by something big and grand. What may be demolished with it is the old Panama City Beach identity replaced as well with  something that may not resemble what came before it.


As of today, the Fiesta Motel, owned by Naidip Panama City LLC out of Tampa, is slated to be demolished in September. This has gone through many phases including negotiations about gutting, remodeling and reopening the 10.3 acre property, but those talks fell through leaving the city with no option other than demolition. September is the date set for Colonial Bank to take action however the city of Panama City Beach may work to flatten the four-story blight earlier; that’s if the owners don’t do it first. This is not a route the city necessarily wants to go but has before with Salty’s, the Seascape Motel and Surfside Villas.

The job isn’t about who does it as long as it gets done. Beach Planning Director Mel Leonard, in a 2008 article with the News Herald, said “This is a very big deal for the city, the owners have waived their right to appeal the city from taking action should they fail to do it on time.” The sense of urgency surrounding the property’s inevitable destruction is felt mostly all around the beach. Mostly.

Debbie McCormick, 24 year general manager of the property, had nothing but fond things to say about the derelict edifice. “It’s an eyesore now, but it used to be a lot of fun.” She said. “One thing about the Fiesta, we didn’t spend much money on advertising. We didn’t have to sell the place because people just walked in. They loved it and so did I. I mean, I still remember the reservation number…235-1000, and I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one.”


The place has to fall. It just has to. But it should be considered what taking it down may mean. At one time the Fiesta motel was filled with people, its pool deck lively and exciting as kids splashed around and parents tanned on the most beautiful beach in the world. It was a cheap unremarkable room on a beach which gave it charm and it kind of embodied the sentiment that some people remember about Panama City Beach before the upgrades. But now a sagging chain-link fence surrounds the property, the doors have long been removed and nature has seized the parking lot with weeds. If you were to walk the property now glass would crackle under your every step and graffiti stains the walls. It looks like a more like a beached carcass than a vacation destination and it is difficult to see how the place could have been, at one time, popular accommodations.

Soon the Fiesta will fall and some, including myself, will be somewhat sad to see it go completely. The classic PCB may be going with it is as well as what ghosts remain of Starliner screams and the laughter from Petticoat Junction.

PCB will be a successful economy as long and it has beautiful beaches and though Pier Park and Ripley’s are great, people have always flocked to PCB because of the classic charm. It’s not a bad idea to remember what that means. I’m sure the people who stayed in Fiesta Motel’s room 121 haven’t forgotten that sentiment and when the property at 13626 Front Beach Road goes finally falls to the wrecker’s ball, hopefully that sentiment doesn’t go with it.

UPDATE: After speaking with Mel Leonard, Beach Planning Director, I learned that the city already has the scope of services prepared and plans to advertise bids for demolition by late June. If the city does this, the lien they place on the property becomes primary meaning that will get paid for their work before the banks do. From the moment the ball hits until the time the place is flattened should take about 60 days with some debri cleanup work on the North side of the property.  The plan is, without disturbing the main vacation season, to have the demolition crew on-site after labor day perhaps nearer to October. No word yet on who or what will replace Fiesta but depending on the type of services may require re-zoning. I’ve heard all sorts of rumors from hotels to amusement parks but only one true inquiry at the Beach Planning offices about a year ago or so asking about rezoning for a camping ground. These type of re-zoning issues such as T3A’s and others are difficult to do considering the residential area on the northside. When more information comes available, we’ll keep you informed.