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There’s been tons of buzz about what’s happening and what’s not happening at Pier Park North. There has been plenty of speculation about what it is, who’s doing it, why and how. To add, there have been articles that have published a list of stores coming, then later changed to report that they were prospective stores. Of course, all this adds to the buzz that is currently surrounding that whole area. We’ve talked about Aaron Bessant Park improvements, a new Walmart and a Target expansion all in this little area.
So let’s talk about the facts, what we know and leave what we don’t know to another article where we can dream.
For clarification purposes, we’ll refer to the portion of Pier Park that is already developed as Pier Park South. This is just to avoid confusion, it’s not actually called Pier Park South.
Who’s developing the mall.
Simon Property Group developed Pier Park South. They bought the land from St. Joe and have right to use the name Pier Park – although the name is still owned by St. Joe; trademarked, really. The Pier Park brand has been used to identify that area for many years.
Pier Park North is being dubbed such because of that control St. Joe has with the brand. They are leasing (or selling) the land to mall developer Glimcher. Glimcher is a publicly traded company that has 24 mall developments in 15 states.
They have full-size conventional malls, strip malls and outlet malls and they are considered a genuine competitor to Simon Property Group.
But with this development, I don’t think it’s necessarily about the competition, but rather the growth in shopping options.
Size, shape and location.
The published square footage that will be developed is 396,000, which is 36% the size of the Pier Park we know on the south side of Panama City Beach Parkway. This is plenty large enough to have several “anchor” stores intertwined with a variety of smaller shops.
One of the elements that sets Pier Park South apart from conventional outdoor malls is the way it was designed. There are nooks, crannies and all sorts of other architectural individualities that really make it a fun place just to walk around. There are alcoves, seating areas, large open areas for the kids to run and a variety of recreation areas. These characteristics are what make Pier Park South a destination to not just shop, but to hang out.
Of course, this was done intentionally – people that hang out where stuff is sold tend to buy stuff.
From the plans, Pier Park North will not be this way. The facade will be straight and flat. There will not be tiered levels or shops that come out or are set back from others. From a retail development optimization perspective, this is ideal. This development method maximized square footage and ensures equal visibility to all stores. However, this design will lack the character of Pier Park South.
Although no artistic renderings have been released, Panama City Beach City Planners are expecting the actual look to be consistent with Pier Park South: bright colors, hardy board plank siding, and some accent towers (think of the tower at Five Guys).
The location of the development will be due north of Pier Park South, will have frontage right on the Parkway and will back right up to a conservation area that will serve as a buffer zone between it and Palmetto Trace.
Pier Park North will have three points of entry from Back Beach Road and one point of entry from Pier Park Drive N.
About the stores that are coming.
The funny thing about submitting plans to the local planning authority is that one typically includes a list of potential stores to give the planners an idea of the size and type of stores that would or could come. Typically the store logos on the plans are just for concept and don’t usually indicate any potential lease negotiations.
When Pier Park South was in the planning stages, I personally saw all sorts of names being thrown around. I saw plans with Best Buy, Belks and a variety of others that never were necessarily intended to be tenants. I was told over and over that I could not release these names because they were not necessarily being announced as potential tenants, they were just on the plans as examples.
The images of the plans here include logos, such as this. However, none of these have been announced by the developer as signed lease holders. In fact, we’re way too early in the game to even have a hint as to who would be coming to Pier Park North. Typically mall developers won’t officially start releasing names until a predetermined amount of time before they’ll be open.
Here is a list of stores that have been speculated on, which some may come, but none have been officially endorsed as actually signing a lease. Estimates based on the plans indicate there will be 20 to 40 stores with 7 to 15 anchor stores.
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Fresh Market
- Pier 1 Imports
- Ross Dress for Less
- Shoe Carnival
- Toys R Us
- Rooms to Go
- Men’s Warehouse
Images of the plans
This is an overview of the project.
From here you can see how the proximity of the development to the residential area.
As you can see, there are logos for retail shops. This is in no way intended to document that these brands are actually coming to the development.
Again, more brand logos. This is just to give you an idea of the type, size and location of stores like this.
This image gives us some hope of the tower-like structures that are found in the existing Pier Park development.
When the mall development will be open for business.
As of right now, the timeline plans indicate that construction will begin in March of this year with stores to be opening approximately one year later. Of course, timelines are meant to slip and no dirt has been moved as of yet. Although survey crew have been spotted on the property.
Location as it relates to Palmetto Trace.
What has seemed like q quiet community in the past, Palmetto Trace residents are in an uproar about this new development. They’ve recently been very vocal about the Aaron Bessant Park improvements and they aren’t happy about a new mall development being erected so close to their homes.
Looking at the size of the buffer zone, it’s likely that many of the homes will be able to see the back of the mall development through some conservation area. There is a pretty good distance between the back of the mall development and the homes, but also a large area of it is water, which doesn’t help much to buffer sound.
What are your thoughts on this new development? Do you think it will help the community grow? Do you think it’s a smart way to grow? If you’re a Palmetto Trace resident, what are your thoughts on this?