Powell Adams Road CRA Treatment Begun (Pier Park)

The new road way that’s accompanying the new Walmart is beginning to materialize. If you remember, concurrent with the new Walmart in Panama City Beach next to Pier Park, Powell Adams road is getting the same treatment as the CRA reconstructed roadways found elsewhere on the beach. Wow, that was a mouthful.

The new roadway will be four lanes with a curbed median and a traffic signal at the Pamama City Beach Parkway (Back Beach Road) intersection. There will be sidewalks, street lights and all underground utilities.

To get an example of what we can expect this to look like upon completion, click here.

This will be an exceptionally nice additional entrance experience for Pier Park.

Pictures.

I know it doesn’t seem like much to look at now, but what you do see is the beginnings of something that will be very beautiful.  If you’ve seen what they’ve done in the other CRA areas, you know this will be a much needed transformation of a very heavily used road right next to what some have begun to call “downtown Panama City Beach.”

Over the coming months, the vantage point of which these photos were taken will change dramatically.

To the right of this shot is the Walmart building, and to the left is Target.  That roadway on the left is the existing Powell Adams roadway.

This shot is facing south with Walmart to the left and Target to the right.

Will the New Walmart be a Super Walmart? [Construction Update]

The new Walmart next to Pier Park in Panama City Beach is taking serious shape. Having been under construction for mere months, you can absolutely see the beginning signs of just what type of Walmart this is going to be.

I’m not one to ignite or fuel rumor-mill, but its been going around that this will indeed be a Super Walmart. I’ve found nothing official to note this but as the building shell is complete, it sure looks that it will indeed be a Super Walmart.

Is this a Super Walmart?

In South Walton, there is a Walmart neighborhood store. Think Walmart, only on a miniature scale. They have a lot of the things normal Walmarts have, but not as much, and there is grocery.

Original speculation discussed the new Walmart as being a neighborhood store as pundits insisted Walmart couldn’t justify two equally competitive stores in the same tax area. Plus the submitted plans specify that the new store is indeed smaller than the original Panama City Beach Walmart.

However, in the last couple weeks the store structure has taken enough shape to offer more clear speculation on what we can expect at this new Walmart.

Mayor Gayle Oberst has been known to say, “Panama City Beach, the only town with a population of 12,000 that has two super Walmarts.”

The photo evidence.

This first photo, taken from the front, closest to Pier Park clearly shows two entrances.  The smaller, neighborhood stores only offer one entrance.

The second photo is taken from the front on the side furthest from Pier Park. From this view you can clearly see the large bay openings found in their lube centers for servicing vehicles.

Here are a variety of other shots to give you an idea of the progress. I’d say barring any weather issues, they’re still on schedule.

This shot is a closer look at the lube bay where they can service cars.  It’s hard to tell at this point, but it looks as though the automobiles would come in from the left, entering on the wall that is facing to the left of the image.

This is a shot from the inside taken towards the south west.  I didn’t get permission for this and sort of snuck up there – hope I don’t get in trouble!  You can’t really see anything here short of the vastness of the inside of this new Walmart in Panama City Beach.

This is taken facing the southwest and shows the easterly-most entrance.

This is another view of the lube bay area, across the stormwater retention pond.

This shot was taken from the southwest (facing northeast) side of the building.  There is a large solid concreate area, I assume would be for staging semi delivery trucks.  I believe there are four bays for tractor trailers.

Harley-Davidson Panama City Beach Ground Breaking

For years the Harley Davidson Panama City Beach sign has waited quietly for it’s purpose.  And after 5 Thunderbeach rally’s since it’s gone up, today was what many called an historic groundbreaking event.  With a fairly large crowd, tons of shiny bikes and a huge open field, Harley Davidson of Panama City Beach is officially under construction.

Development timetable.

With the groundbreaking today, technically construction has started, but the entire dealership site has already been cleared, graded and prepped for development.  The 5 acre site will be home to a 38,000 square foot Harley Davidson dealership that will sell hundreds of bikes a year and even have their own training course and course track.

In the next couple weeks expect to begin to see a foundation take shape and walls go up with a projected (weather permitting) completion mid to late spring 2013.  Their goal is to be open and ready for business by the spring Thunderbeach Rally.

About the dealership [Press Release].

This dealership is going to be huge, tipping the scales at over 38,000 square feet.  A large showroom floor will feature the newest Harley-Davidsons as well as a large selection of used bikes including Harleys and all other makes and of motorcycles. The Motorclothes department will feature a wide variety of clothing for all from fashionable t-shirts to functional riding gear including helmets, gloves, and leather jackets.  Other items will also be available such as jewelry, glassware, HD home decor and plenty of other Harley-Davidson themed items.

For those riders who want to add a little something extra to their motorcycle, the full service Parts and Accessories department will be standing by to help.  Chrome Consultants can help add a little or a lot of shine while the Fit Shop will help guests choose the right handlebars, seats and other accessories to ensure their bike is the perfect fit for them. From taillight to LED Head Lights and everything in between, Genuine Harley-Davidson Parts and Accessories will be available to keep your Harley looking good and running smooth.

If your bike needs some major repair work or just an oil change, the full service department will take care of you.  With 6 service bays and a complete detail area, the factory-trained technicians treat your bike just as the would their own.  Expertise in their field and a passion for riding means the techs will have you and your Harley roaring down the road in no time at all.

If you don’t know how to ride, no problem.  The dealership will offer motorcycle-riding lessons through Harley-Davidson’s Rider’s Edge Course.  The motorcycles are provided for the course and a training room and certified riding range s on site.  Our coaches are experienced, knowledgable and patient and will teach all the skills needed to become a safe rider.  When you pass the course, you will be able to pick up your motorcycle endorsement from the DMV.  If you need to brush up on your skills, classes for the experienced rider will also be available.

The fishing village themed building ties into the coastal community and is an inviting place for guests to buy a Harley, shop for MOtorclothes, have their bike serviced or just hang out.  The motorcycle dealership features a guest lounge complete with complementary soft drinks, popcorn and cookies.  Guests will be encouraged to relax, shoot a game of pool or play some darts.

Location

The dealership is located on the 5 acre parcel immediately to the east of the Palmetto Trace subdivision, at the intersection of Panama City Beach Parkway (US 98 or Back Beach Road) and N Gulf Blvd on the northwest corner.  The dealership entrance will be off of Gulf Blvd.

Map link

Pictures, site plans and renderings.

One of the coolest media kits I’ve received came in the form of a nifty usb thumb drive silicon bracelet with Harley-Davidson branding on it.  They provided the site plan, rendering and the building floorplan.

Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater Construction Update

Very few things excite me as much as new construction in Panama City Beach.  You know I love dreaming of the future and any sort of growth is a sign of prosperity and success.  The improvements happening at Aaron Bessant Park are really beginning to take shape.  So far the construction of the new amphitheater is giving it some shape and the new restroom facilities are coming out of the ground.  They’ve also began grading the field preparing for the soccer fields.

As you roll through the pictures of the construction update, you can reference the layout schematics to get some bearing on what is where.

Amphitheater schematics

On the west side of the amphitheater there will be the dressing room area.  This will provide an area for the performers to prepare and rest.  There are actually two separate dressing rooms, each with their own full bathroom and a green room. In addition, on that side of the amphitheater there is an administrative office for support staff and secured storage.

On the east side of the amphitheater is the loading and storage area.  There is an opening that is large enough and at the right height for a semi truck trailer to pull right up and off load equipment.  In addition, there is a large amount of storage area.

Construction update photos

Taken from the east side (facing west), this shot looks at the side of the structure.  To the right in this image would be the audience.

This is a closer shot of the east side of the structure.  The larger opening in the middle will be the garage bay door where performers will be able to pull their trailer up to for loading and unloading.  Immediately behind that wall will be storage.

This is taken from the front of the structure with the audience placement behind me.  This shows the right or west side of the building and the stage area.

This is again, the west side of the structure.

New Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater Construction Begins

We’ve been quiet around these parts and figured we owed you an update on the improvements that are happening at Aaron Bessant Park.  I had a quick chat with Mario Gisbert, the newly appointed City Manager, yesterday and he presented me with all the enhancements coming up.  And let me tell you, it looks fantastic.

The ground breaking ceremony was a few weeks back and they’ve already made some good progress, despite all the rain.  The projected “contractual” completion date is on December 13th with final completion to be 1 month after that.

Amphitheater acoustics design

The improvements of the Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater is something that has been quite a hot topic. Workshops and public meetings have been a instrumental in hearing the public’s opinion and residents have come out in droves in support and opposition to the improvements.  Some of those against the new amphitheater have had concerns with crowding and sound and those for it think it will be a huge draw for the area for performers and tourists to spectate.

Read all our articles on the Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater here.

One of the clear concerns of the public was acoustical insulation in order to keep the sound where it is wanted and away from where it is not. The entire design is centered around this concern.

Every surface on the interior of the structure will be lined with acoustical insulation material that is protected by a wavy, perforated metal material that will help with sound absorption and a protector to the insulation material.  Furthermore, the speakers will be oriented in a way for maximum sound isolation, so that they won’t project outside the event boundaries.  But this isn’t to say you won’t see some sound fragments lingering in areas outside the event, but the sound levels will be within the acceptable and approved ordinance levels.

Design and layout of the amphitheater

The architectural design has evolved quite a bit since our last discussion.  Originally it looked like a literal transplant of the Pier Park style and feel, towers and all.  But with public opinion weighted in and acoustical analysis considered, the design has taken on more individualistic characteristics.  However, it still feels consistent with the area and beachy design direction.

Some of the things I find cool is the thoughtfulness of the layout with respect to the performers.  The object of the new amphitheater is two fold: 1) a better user experience for the spectator, 2) a solid infrastructure for the performer to come in and have minimal setup.

For the performer, all they need to do is pull their tractor trailer up to the built-in loading dock (behind the screen to the east) and unload.  They can hand their lights and speakers from the already installed support system, hook right into the power and they’re good to go.  There are secured and lockable areas on either side of the stage to store equipment overnight (think weekend festivals) and the entire back side of the stage opens up with huge airplane hangar doors to add an additional loading area or to air the facility out.

The stage is 60’x40′ with an 8′ thrust out front increasing the stage area considerably.  The overhang of the roof structure is about 12 feet.

New soccer fields, parking

Concurrent with the development of the new amphitheater is the development of 3 new soccer fields in the current sand field behind the park.  In addition to soccer fields, this area will double as parking for larger events.  The field will be leveled with a layer of clay added to the top, then compacted soil and traffic resistant grass, just like Frank Brown Park’s festival area is now.

Pictures and building design plans

In this shot you can see what the new Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater will look like from the front.  On either side of the stage, the white areas will serve as screens for performers to be projected for the audience. Just above those panels will be supports to hang jumbotrons or some other video screen if the provided screens aren’t what they’re looking for.

To the right, in the structure behind that screen panel, will be the dressing room area.  This will provide an area for the performers to prepare and rest.  There are actually two separate dressing rooms, each with their own full bathroom and a green room. In addition, on that side of the amphitheater there is an administrative office for support staff and secured storage.

To the left, in the structure behind that screen panel, is the loading and storage area.  There is an opening that is large enough and at the right height for a semi truck trailer to pull right up and off load equipment.  In addition, there is a large amount of storage area.

If you’re standing in front of the stage, looking towards the structure, the wall on the back side of the stage are actually airplane hangar doors that completely open.  On this back side of the structure, the height is perfect for backing up a panel or pickup truck for loading and unloading.

 

 

[VIDEO] South Thomas Drive CRA Complete

Short of a bit of landscaping and some finish work, the South Thomas Drive CRA is complete!  They’ve been working on this project since September of 2009 and regardless of delays, setbacks and disappointed expectations, the improvements look awesome.  So, before you start flaming off in the comments about how you know how to run a project of this magnitude so much better and how if YOU were running it it would have been all perfect, just go take a drive through there and enjoy it.  It’s really fantastic.

I won’t spend a whole lot of time walking you through what they did, as we’ve discussed that in great length here, here and here – so let’s get right to the video!

New Walmart Construction Update 1

The new Walmart going in next to Pier Park is heavy underway and great progress can be seen on daily basis.  If you remember the parcel where Walmart will be, you’ll probably remember it was largely vacant but bordered with tree cover.  The tree cover was heavy enough so that you couldn’t really see around the corner at the Powell Adams and Back Beach Road intersection.  Well, not so now!

I’ll be the first to admit, the construction of a new Walmart in Panama City Beach isn’t exactly a riveting sight to be seen.  It’s sort of like watching grass grow during the early phases since a lot of the work being done for the first half of the construction tenure is ground work.  But as things start moving, we’ll show you more pix – and we hope that as we follow the timeline, the progress will seem at least a little interesting.  😉

Aerial Google Map of what it was.

This was captured today and shows an image of what the property looked like before any construction was begun.  The parking lot in the upper left corner belongs to Target, the neighborhood on the right of the image is Summerwood with Palmetto Trace being right across the street (Back Beach Road) from there.

Taken from the NE, looking SW

This image was taken from the south side of Back Beach Road, looking towards the south (technically), but facing a little west.  The condo on the right in the image is Calypso with Aqua on the left.  You can see a little smidge of Target on the far right middle of the image.  This picture is likely looking over where an outparcel will be.

Looking at NW corner of the Walmart parcel

This image was taken to show how clearly you can now see around this corner.  Before there was heavy tree covering hear and it was difficult to see around the corner.  Now you can see straight across.  I’m not one for cutting down a bunch of trees, but it is nice to be able to see through this intersection much more clearly now.

Another view of the NW corner of the Walmart parcel

This view shows you how clear that corner is now.  When construction is complete, this particular intersection will be signalized and should be much safer than it now is.

View from the NW looking SE

In this image, we’re looking from the NW corner of the Walmart parcel next to Pier Park.  The image is facing the southeast.  The building you see in the very middle (next to the truck) is Legacy by the Sea, the you have Origin at Seahaven, Sunrise Beach then Emerald Beach Resort.  You can see the vastness of the property in this image and just how much land has been cleared.  We are likely looking over an outparcel in this shot.

The widened view down Powell Adams

 

As discussed, along with a new Walmart, Panama City Beach is getting an advanced treatment to Powell Adams Road that the CRA wouldn’t be able to perform for years.  We’ll have an update on the completion of the South Thomas Drive CRA in a couple days, which will give you an idea of how this stretch of road will look and feel.  For someone who just traveled the newly improved South Thomas Drive yesterday, we’ll be in for a real treat here.  This shot shows the preparation for making the widening provisions.

 Construction entrance to the project

Maybe this is the norm nowadays, but I thought this was particularly cool.  They have a “zone” where exiting vehicles are washed while resting on a bed of large rocks to help minimize the amount of soil that exits the property and is deposited on the roadways.

Looking NE from the SW

This shot looks form the southwest looking towards the northeast.  The water was actually from the legacy pond that has been formed over the years this property sat vacant.  I’m not sure whether this will be used as a retention pond or if it will be filled in.  This is the back part of the parcel.

 

Whataburger Opens in Panama City Beach

I know you’re mouth has been watering every time you’ve driven by the Whataburger that’s been under construction on Back Beach Road.  And don’t pretend it’s not watering now, just thinking about it.  They’ve been working on it for a couple months, and it finally opened last week.

It’s located right next to the new Hardee’s in one of the Lowe’s out parcels next to the Tom Thumb gas station.  It’s in the southeast quadrant of the Alf Coleman and Panama City Beach Parkway (Back Beach Road) intersection.

The best part about this place is that it’s open 24 hours a day!

I ate there last week and was pleasantly surprised when they brought my food out to me and offered napkins and condiments right at my table.  Not sure if that will last forever, but I sure enjoyed it!  And the burger was awesome.

Aaron Bessant Park Improvements [UPDATE]

Well, the Jazz Festival was awesome!  They had record numbers and mostly excellent weather (minus Saturday), and they’ve already started selling tickets for next year!  With that out of the way, the improvements that are slated for Aaron Bessant Park are preparing to begin! Although I don’t look forward for the workers working during our hot summer days.

We’ve discussed what the plans are here, and you’ve certainly chimed in.

Q&A with the City of Panama City Beach

We were curious about what was happening over there and fired off some questions to Mario Gisbert, the director of the CRA, who also happens to handle some of the logistics regarding the development of this project.

Q. Now that the Jazz Fest is over, is there a projected begin date for the Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater Improvements?

We are fine toning the drawings now, we will be pricing per the City of Panama City Beach requirements shortly (one month process).  Upon council approval of bids (two week process) and not exceeding the budget we would start construction.  Goal would be June start.

Q. What is the projected construction time on the amphitheater?

The construction duration is approximately 5 months.

Q. What has been learned about the acoustical ramifications of the way the speakers can be oriented?

With proper speaker orientation, building configuration and amplification limitations, the performances will work within the current sound ordinance.  These issues are being addressed with the building design.  The performance standards are being developed at this point in time.

Q. How will the speakers be oriented in order to be sensitive to the needs of the surrounding public?

The speakers will be aimed (7 degree cone) into the audience and not out towards the neighborhoods.

Q. Was some of what has been learned put into practice for the Jazz Festival this year?

The performance provider was aware of the current issues and did coordinate the speakers for a proper responsible performance.  The current sound ordinance limits were adhered.  We did monitor the event.

Q. How will the sound be monitored on an ongoing basis to be sure everyone is happy?

We will complete the performance standards and monitor the effects and adjust as needed.  We are planning on having the acoustician present during the new building performance in order to make final adjustments with building and speakers and amplification.

New Walmart Starts Construction

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

The new Walmart being installed next to Pier Park has begun construction as of yesterday.  Located right next door to Target, across from Powell Adams Road, an official “designation” is still unclear, but it’s certain to have grocery.  We recently discussed the site plans that were clear that it would not only include grocery, but a full bakery section, deli (with display coolers), fresh produce, garden center, and other general areas you’d expect to find in a Walmart.

We do know that this Walmart will be 156,000 square feet, which is 70% of the size of the Super Walmart to the east of this one.

What they’ll be doing first.

In preparation for the general construction, they’ve got to level out the land and get everything ready for the giant slab that we’ll walk on as we shop for the next umpteen years.  If you remember, there is a huge sand hill that’s been there for years, capturing the tires of renegade wannabe off-roaders that have bravely attempted to traverse it’s heights.  Yes, even my own brother got stuck in that hill, before he had four wheel drive.

They’ll be putting up perimeter fencing to help protect our eyes from the menacing construction equipment and keep the kids out and installing a central construction trailer to manage day to day operations.

Construction timeline and property details.

At this point, the construction timeline is still projected to be right at 12 months.  I would think they would want to get this done by next spring season, or at the latest, next summer season.  We’ll keep an eye on things as it progresses.

There will be out parcels along Panama City Beach Parkway (Back Beach Road), three entry points on Powell Adams Road and one entry point on Back Beach Road.

Powell Adams Road improvements.

One of the more controversial elements to this development, interestingly enough, has been the improvements to Powell Adams Road.  Many of the Walmart Opposition Party have contended that if something goes in that requires improvements to the road, they should have to pay for it, not the taxpayer.

Powell Adams Road is on the schedule for the CRA improvement treatment plan in the next couple years, and the Walmart development has put these improvements on the fast track.  The cool thing about this is that the City was going to fund this entirely, originally, and it wasn’t going to happen for at least 2 more years.  But, since Walmart is coming, and the improvements are needed in order to meet the requirements that will come with the increased traffic, Walmart is partially funding this improvement project.

The improvements will be on Powell Adams Road and go back to LC Hilton Drive (the road you can take to Miracle Strip and the center round about.

Why Walmart paying just a portion is more than fair.

The way this was explained to me was that Walmart is paying for the improvements that they would need and the City is paying for the improvements that are above and beyond that which would bring them up to the CRA standards (think curbs, sidewalks, decorative street lighting, and landscaping).

You see, if Walmart put in the baseline improvements that were needed in order to accomodate the traffic increase that would come with it’s development, we’d get signalization and a wider road out of the deal, at no cost.  But the beautification that comes with the CRA treatment would not happen, and the potential cost down the road when the City got to this portion of the improvement schedule would be proportionally higher.

BUT, by just “charging” Walmart the cost is would be for the improvements they need to make, and the City paying for the other improvement elements that come with the normal CRA improvements, we save money (because we’re not paying for the baseline improvements) and we get the beautification much earlier than expected (literally by years).

So, in my eyes, it’s a win-win.  What do you think? Comment below. 😉