Laketown Wharf to Undergo $10 Million Renovation

Looks like they’re trying to breathe some more life into Laketown Wharf.  I have history with this resort and have always thought it was a fantastically interesting place.  The developer certainly went big when it was developed and I’ve always thought it had huge potential.

There are several pools, the condos are large and quite nice and most of them have wonderful views of the gulf.

The renovations include adding new amenities including a grocery store and deli, leasing center, redecorated hotel lobby, conference/meeting rooms, business center, new pool and boardwalk furniture, family zone, owners’ lounge and arcade.  Additional renovations include expanding the deck, adding new fountains and landscaping, opening the lake to the public and more. Plus, area residents and visitors should be on the lookout for Laketown Wharf turtles that will be coming to town soon. The project is expected to be completed by June 2013.

Read more about Laketown Wharf here.

Full press release.

PANAMA CITY BEACH, FL (March 12, 2013) – Laketown Wharf, currently offering short- and long-term vacation rentals in the heart of Panama City Beach, FL, will undergo a $10 million renovation, adding new amenities including a grocery store and deli, leasing center, redecorated hotel lobby, conference/meeting rooms, business center, new pool and boardwalk furniture, family zone, owners’ lounge and arcade. Additional renovations include expanding the deck, adding new fountains and landscaping, opening the lake to the public and more. Plus, area residents and visitors should be on the lookout for Laketown Wharf turtles that will be coming to town soon. The project is expected to be completed by June 2013.

“The renovations at Laketown Wharf will make this a premier property in the area,” says Wade Hundley, CEO of ST Residential. “There’s no better investment than beach property and these upgrades are greatly increasing its value.”

The renovations at Laketown Wharf coincide with city improvements in the area, further increasing the investment opportunity in this incredible property. Laketown Wharf already boasts the area’s most comprehensive set of amenities with five pools, including one zero-entry pool overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, a 10th floor rooftop pool and an island pool secluded in the middle of a private lake, along with a spectacular nightly fountain and water show.

With spacious one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans, sweeping views and convenient beach access, Laketown Wharf offers all the elements of a great vacation home with the casual luxury and convenience of a resort. Additional resort amenities include 52,000 square-feet of lakefront boardwalk, a fully-equipped fitness center, covered parking and kids’ playground along with the sugar-white beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. All hotel rooms are fully furnished and professionally decorated featuring 32″ flat screen TVs and high-speed internet. Every balcony faces the water, offering spectacular views of the Gulf, lake and golf course. And, with a playground overlooking the lake and seasonal kids’ programming through Kidz Club, there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy at Laketown Wharf. Kidz Club offers a variety of activities for children ages four through 12 including a nightly drop off program, “dive-in” movies, crafts, games, poolside activities and more.

Whether it’s for a quick getaway or a lengthy stay, Laketown Wharf makes an unforgettable beach vacation attainable with great pricing and specials throughout the year. Weekly stays begin at just $500 for a one-bedroom, two-bathroom condo that sleeps up to four people; $700 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo that sleeps up to six people; and $900 for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo that sleeps up to eight people.

Nightly rates vary throughout the season and great deals and specials are often available. With a one-bedroom, two-bathroom condo that sleeps up to four people beginning at just $109 per night; a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo that sleeps up to six people beginning at $129 per night; and a three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo that sleeps up to eight people beginning at just $149 per night, Laketown Wharf is ideal for a quick escape to the beach.

Apartments are also available for rent, with leases ranging from seven to 18 months. One-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments start at $935 per month; two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments start at $1,195 per month; and three-bedroom, three-bathroom apartments start at $1,495 per month. Rent includes cable with HBO, trash and quarterly pest control services. Military discounts are available.

New retail space on the property will also be available for lease soon.

Pier Park Walmart Grand Opening March 13th

In my sneak peak last week, I showed you the new Pier Park Walmart was getting super close to completion.  They had inventory in stock and staff in place and everyone was charged for the grand opening.  Yesterday the date was announced and they’ll ring in the new location next Wednesday, March 13, right in the middle of one of the biggest spring break weeks in Panama City Beach.

We just talked about the sales floor being about the same size as the “beach” Walmart, and with all the jobs it opened up, it’s sure to be a good economic driver for the area.  And as commented in our previous article, it’s certainly the most aesthetically pleasing Walmart I’ve ever seen.

Press release.

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla., March 7, 2013 – Residents of Panama City Beach are invited to the new Walmart store, which opens on Wednesday, March 13, at U.S. Highway 98 and Powell Adams Road. The grand opening is scheduled for 7:30 a.m., and the store will open to the public immediately following the grand-opening ceremony. Conveniently located at Pier Park, the new store brings approximately 200 new jobs to the area and opportunities for savings for customers. It will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We are delighted to have another Walmart superstore in our city,” said Mayor Gayle Oberst. “The design and location will help it to become a focal point as growth continues on the Panama City Beach Parkway. Walmart has been a great community partner in supporting our library and other aspects of community development and activities in the past and we look forward to years of working together.”

Ribbon-Cutting Celebration at 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 13

Community and business leaders will join Walmart associates at 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 13, for a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Grand-Opening Events

Customers are encouraged to come to the store on grand-opening day to take advantage of a wide variety of events and promotions. The grand-opening celebration events include product samplings and giveaways from Australian Gold, Borden, Coca-Cola, Vita Coco, Community Coffee, Coppertone, Frito-Lay, Krispy Kreme, Lewis Bear Company, MillerCoors, Nabisco, and character appearances by Elsie the Cow, Cracker Jack and the Oreo Cookie. The Jack Link’s Truck will also be on site. All events are family-friendly, free and open to the public.

“Our associates are enthusiastic and look forward to serving the Panama City Beach community and providing everyday low prices and convenience,” said store manager Jennifer Ross. “We invite local residents to come see their new Supercenter at Pier Park and enjoy product samples and giveaways on grand opening day and throughout the following week.”

Customer Convenience and Wide Product Selection

By combining general merchandise and a full line of groceries in one convenient location, the store offers Panama City Beach shoppers the convenience of one-stop shopping close to home.

The new store features a wide assortment of quality, value priced merchandise, including:

  • Family apparel
  • Health and beauty aids
  • Electronics
  • Toys
  • Lawn and garden items
  • Jewelry
  • Automotive products
  • Home furnishings
  • Hardware
  • Sporting goods
  • Pet supplies
  • Housewares

The grocery area will include a wide selection of fresh produce, including organic products and a gluten-free section. Other features include a full bakery, meat and dairy products, dry goods and staples, beverages, a deli, frozen foods, canned and packaged goods, baking items and household supplies.

The pharmacy will offer a full range of products and services to support the health and wellness of customers and their families. The pharmacy team can answer questions and offer health and wellness solutions. They can also assist customers who wish to transfer their prescriptions to Walmart. The pharmacy is conveniently located at the front of the store next to the Walmart.com services department.

This store features many energy-saving elements, part of Walmart’s overall efforts to reduce the total amount of energy used in stores and other operations. These features include LED lights in signage, freezer cases and the parking lot. This technology uses about 50 percent less energy than traditional lighting.

Community Organizations Benefit from Grand-Opening Grants

Nonprofit organizations will also benefit from the retailer’s ongoing charitable contributions and support for community projects. As part of Walmart’s commitment to the communities in which it operates, over $4,500 in grants from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation will be presented to local organizations at the grand opening. Organizations receiving grants include Covenant Hospice, Inc., Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Junior League of Panama City, Inc., Panama City Beach Library Foundation, Inc. and Surfside Middle School.

Healthier Food and “Great For You”

Walmart made a major commitment to make food healthier and healthier food more affordable, ensuring families won’t have to choose between a product that is good for them and one they can afford. Steps in the healthier food initiative include:

  • Reformulate thousands of packaged food items by 2015 by reducing sodium and added sugars and removing all remaining industrially produced trans fats.
  • Make healthier choices more affordable by providing savings on fresh produce and reducing the price premium on “better-for-you” items.
  • Provide solutions to address food deserts by bringing stores in underserved communities.
  • Increase charitable support for nutrition programs that help educate consumers about healthier food solutions and choices.

The “Great For You” icon appears on select Great Value and Marketside products as well as fresh and packaged fruits and vegetables. The icon was developed to help customers easily identify nutritious food options so they can make healthier eating choices for themselves and their families. For more information, visit corporate.walmart.com/healthier-food.

Walmart.com Services

Walmart.com services will be available at the store’s entrance. In addition to a digital photo processing lab, the store will also offer two services for customers who shop online. Site-to-Store is a free service that allows customers to ship online orders from http://www.walmart.com free to any Walmart store for pickup. Pick Up Today is a free service that allows customers to order store items online and pick them up at their local Walmart store that same day (or the next day if items are ordered after 6 p.m. local time).

Pay With Cash

All Walmart stores and Walmart Neighborhood Markets participate in the “Pay With Cash” program. This allows customers to order online at Walmart.com and pay for the items with cash at all stores in the U.S. Walmart is the first major retailer to offer online purchases without the need for banking services or a credit, debit or prepaid card.

Economic Impact Includes Approximately 200 New Jobs

The new Panama City Beach Pier Park Walmart will employ approximately 200 associates, according to Ross. The average wage at Walmart for full-time hourly associates in Florida is approximately $12.81 per hour. * Eligible full- and part-time associates at Walmart are able to take advantage of many employment benefits, including a wide variety of health-care plans, 401(k) participation, discounts, membership at Sam’s Club and the opportunity to purchase stock. Nearly 75 percent of the company’s managers began their Walmart careers as hourly associates.

About Walmart

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) helps people around the world save money and live better – anytime and anywhere – in retail stores, online, and through their mobile devices. Each week, more than 200 million customers and members visit our more than 10,600 stores under 69 banners in 27 countries and e-commerce websites in 10 countries. With fiscal year 2012 sales of approximately $444 billion, Walmart employs more than 2.2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmartnewsroom. Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com and http://www.samsclub.com.

Powell Adams Road Traffic Light Activated.

In a press release this week, the City of Panama City Beach announced the new traffic light at the intersection of Panama City Beach Parkway, or Back Beach Road and Powell Adams Road has been activated.  This light comes with the improvement of the Powell Adams Roadway (update forthcoming) that was a product of the Pier Park Walmart development and it’s projected resulting traffic increase in the area.

The light comes after years of traffic stress in the area and a recent speed limit drop from 55 mph to 45 mph.  If you remember, there have been a number of car accidents at this intersection over the years with at least one reported fatality.

The light is activated, but the roadway isn’t fully open as they are finishing up the pavement work on Powell Adams, which is projected to be complete soon.

Press release.

City of Panama City Beach – Motorists traveling Powell Adams Road will encounter the newly activated traffic signal at Starfish Street beginning Thursday March 7, 2013.  The City will activate the new traffic signal around 10 am.  This new signal is part of the Powell Adams Road Reconstruction Project.

Motorists are reminded to use caution while traveling through the newly signalized intersection.

New Walmart Set to Open Next Week

Spring is in the air, can’t you smell it? Flowers are getting ready to boom, the weather is warming (wait, did it ever cool off?) and there is a new Walmart opening in Panama City Beach. Nope, they aren’t replacing the old Walmart, this will be in addition to the other Walmart, colloquially referred to as “The Beach Walmart.”

I swear I had found some article substantiating a claim that the Beach Walmart was the highest in volume sales nationally for Walmart Corp, but I can’t find it now, so maybe that was all a dream. But, General Manager Jennifer Ross (the Beach Walmart’s former GM and the new GM at the Pier Park Walmart) mentioned that possibly the claim I was referring to was total in beer and liquor volume sales.

Last week I had the opportunity to tour the new Walmart with Store Manager Jennifer Ross.  A firm opening date will be announced this week, but Ross expects they’ll be ready to open next week.

Let’s talk about what’s different.

The big question everyone has had about this new Walmart is what the difference is between it and the existing Walmart. With the existing Walmart ringing in at around 220,000 square feet, the new Walmart is about 70% of that size, just over 156,000 square feet. Naturally, one would think the new Walmart is smaller than the other one, offering less of a selection, but there are a few things that the new Walmart doesn’t have that accounts for that lost square footage.

One huge component the new Walmart doesn’t have, that accounts for a large amount of the square footage difference is the Tire and Lube center. Additionally, there is almost no tenant space in the new Walmart, with the exception of a Subway and Airbrush. The Beach Walmart has an Eye Center, Nail Salon and other tenant space at the front of the store.

Walking around the inside of the store, it really feels every bit as large as the other Beach Walmart.

Other things that are new to this Walmart.

One of the things I love about the new Walmart is that they kept the exterior design completely consistent with that of Pier Park.  We’d been seeing signs of this all along, but it was something, as a community, I’ve heard concern of.

  • Implementation of sustainability features, including
    • Freezer motion sensor lights
    • Cycling overhead lights
    • Energy efficient refrigeration
    • Concrete floors
    • Recycled composite counters that look like granite
  • All touch-screen registers
  • Bull-pen style self check-out with 8 registers
  • Drive-through pharmacy
  • A/C ducts for Outdoor Center cashiers
  • Big Ass Fans in Outdoor Center (you’ll just have to go see them, that’s really their name)

Right now they’re looking to hire about 50 more people for the season claiming they’ll employ about 250 people seasonally and 250 people normally the rest of the year.

Economically, this is pretty huge. This one installment literally added over 200 jobs locally and will definitely supplement the city’s tax revenue bucket offing a diversified shopping opportunity for travelers on the west end of Panama City Beach.

Photos

Pier Park Walmart Still Hiring

If you’re looking for a job, the new Pier Park Walmart that is set to open this spring is still hiring. Having advertised that they had approximately 200 positions open and ready to hire for various positions, they’ve made quick progress in snapping up those unemployed or those wanting to change their job paths.

“We are hiring both full- and part-time associates,” said store manager Jennifer Ross. “Walmart provides good jobs with opportunities for career growth, and we look forward to talking with candidates who are interested in joining our store’s team.” Ross began her Walmart career as a part-time cashier in 1996 at a store in Montgomery, Ala.

“Approximately half the store’s positions have been filled since our hiring center opened December 26th, which means we still have openings for about 100 associates,” said store manager Jennifer Ross. “Those openings include positions for all shifts, as well as some supervisory positions.”

Walmart’s benefit program is available to eligible full- and part-time associates and provides a variety of affordable health and well-being benefits including health-care coverage with no lifetime maximum. Walmart also offers eligible associates matching 401(k) contributions of up to 6 percent of pay, discounts on general merchandise, an Associate Stock Purchase Program and company-paid life insurance. Additionally, eligible associates receive a quarterly incentive based on store performance.

The hiring center opened Wednesday, Dec. 26, and interested applicants can stop by during the center’s hours of operation, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Applicants can also apply online at careers.walmart.com.

Walmart Hiring Center

17208 Panama City Beach Parkway

Panama City Beach, Fla.

Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater COMPLETED

We’ve been watching the progress and anxiously awaiting the finished product for months, and the Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater officially received it’s Certificate of Occupancy last Friday. Having lunch at Pier Park Wednesday, I overheard them sound testing and stopped by to check it out.

Once I got there, I found Pro Tech (the sound and lighting masterminds behind the PCB Seafood Fest and many of the other events you’ve spectated in our area) with speakers hung, lighting in the progress of being hung, all to test the new infrastructure and play with the setup.  They were rocking out to AC/DC and Mario Gisbert (the new City Manager) and other local officials with the City of Panama City Beach were there to witness the tests.

The concept renderings of the building were pretty, but the finished building is really a spectacle to behold.  The colors are vibrant and the style closely matches the motif Pier Park set precedent for years earlier and the architectural features are clean and beautiful.  It was fun walking through it as it felt like that new shiny car that you’re test driving for the very first time.

They said the first scheduled event is in April for the Seabreeze Jazz Festival and they tentatively have the Panama City POPs scheduled for a performance there later in the spring.

Here is a breakdown of all the features of this new amphitheater.

Here are other posts related to the Pier Park Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater.

Pictures

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From this view, you can see the paved driveway that will allow access for performer’s vehicles and loading trucks.

 

IMG_7662_3_4_fusedwtmkThis is from the back of the stage looking out, to the north and slightly to the east.  The covered stage area is very large, much larger than some of the pop-up stages that we’ve seen here in the past.

 

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This is obviously from the front-west side.  The white panel you see is a place for a projector to project video of performances.  Behind that panel is the dressing rooms and admin office.

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This is looking at the opposite side of the amphitheater.  The white panel here is the same as the other side and there is a large loading area perfect for anything up to a semi-truck trailer to unload.

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This view shows the back of the structure.  You can see how polished everything is.  That large green area in the middle are those huge hangar doors that open up completely and allow the Seabreeze come through.

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Pier Park North Land Clearing has Begun!

Driving down Back Beach Road (Panama City Beach Parkway or US 98) last week you could smell the fresh scent of pine in the air as logging crews harvested the pine forrest located where the new Pier Park North mall will be located. In fact, by Wednesday, most of the trees were gone and crews are expected to begin de-stumping the ground this week.

Here is a panoramic shot of the site as of Wednesday, November 28, 2012.

Having just reported on the [so far] up to date list of stores coming to the development, we’ve had quite a few chime in on their suggestions on the stores that should be included in this development. There was some initial speculation in the recent past on whether this development was even a reality.  Of course, with the buzz of Pier Park North, began the buzz of a new Walmart in Panama City Beach that is getting nearer to completion every day.  Some commenters have confirmed that it is indeed going to be a Super Walmart.

What do you think of the new Walmart development and the development of Pier Park North?