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.

Shoney’s in Pier Park is OPEN and it’s Delicious!

If you’re been looking for a fresh pick for your next breakfast, lunch or dinner, there’s a new kid on the block in Pier Park in West Panama City Beach. Shoney’s in Pier Park opened yesterday with their grand opening to take place next week. Today I had the opportunity to have a sit-down with one of their market leaders for lunch after a conversation with their CEO this morning.

Lunch was delicious, and their cordiality has been second to none. If they run their business half as well as they’ve treated me, they’ll be very successful indeed.

First Impressions.


Ya know, I have to admit, with what little I knew about Shoney’s, I wasn’t particularly excited about one coming here. It’s not that I was unexcited, there just wasn’t any emotion at all.

But, since this is PCBDaily, and there’s an obligation to report on (if nothing else) something new, I figured I owed it to you; and them. My request for more information was interestingly responded to.

I was first called by the new Marketing Director of Pier Park, who told me someone from Shoney’s would be calling me. The next day I received a call from the Shoney’s Director of Marketing who said he was going to set up a call for me with the CEO. Reassuring him that a conversation with the CEO wasn’t necessary, it was insisted upon.

This morning I was connected with David Davoudpour, the CEO, who was just a flat-out nice guy. We had a great conversation for a few minutes and parted ways.

I texted the DOM for Shoney’s asking him if I could stop by for lunch and was treated to lunch by another senior staff member who spent more time with me than I do with any of my minions.

This morning, the CEO told me that they spend time and energy in community involvement, and I continued to feel that resounded over and over. Over the years, I’ve been treated to lunch, I’ve been given favors in hopes of a favorable word and the like, but they just made me feel good.

And I can tell you, they left a lifetime impression on me. And I’ll have no hesitation seeking them out when we travel or when we’re going out here locally.

This Shoney’s is different.


Naturally, when you see a larger brand enter into a market for the first time in a while, or if they open a new location, you’d expect them to try some things differently. This is no different.

The Shoney’s in Panama City Beach is doing a few things differently, but they’re staying true to the heritage their CEO emphasized to me this morning: that they offer “good value, family American dining.”

Some of the things they’re doing differently here include having a full steakhouse menu, full bar (beer and liquor), completely different ambiance, they have a Hometown Cafe (espresso, latte and mocha), and they have outside patio seating (that seats 60).

And another huge difference, and I mean huge in the literal sense, is that this is the largest Shoney’s they have, ringing in around 7,200 square feet.

The food and the prices.


When asked this morning what he thought Shoney’s was best known for, David Davoudpour told me “value, and fresh, quality food.” Rob, the representative that met me for lunch told me all the ingredients are fresh, nothing comes in frozen, and pointed to my onion rings stating they are all hand battered from fresh cut onions.

I have to admit, when Red Robin came in (right across the street), I was excited to try them, but I was disappointed in their price-point. I have a hard time taking my whole family there for less than $100. Remember, I have 5 kids.

When I was looking at the menu, I was impressed at the low cost of the items. It’s hard going out to eat around here without spending a fortune.

Davoudpour told me this morning that I had to try the burgers. So for lunch, I had an All American Burger, and was asked at the time of order whether I wanted pink or no pink. I chose pink and I was not let down. The burger was moist and tender, the bun was fantastic and the “fix ins” were perfect. The burger was perfectly adorned and it really was absolutely delicious.

As a side I got onion rings, and they were amazing as well.

My meal, with the water I ordered, would have been $6.99 plus tax. Not a bad lunch.

So, where are they?


Remember that Cantina Mexican restaurant across from Red Robin? They shut down and Shoney’s filled in their spot. They’ve spend the last couple months building and the inside looks great. They’ve filled it out nicely and they have plenty of room for professional groups (hello IdeaCamp) and private parties.

So, Shoney’s in Panama City Beach in Pier Park. Try it. It’s fantastic and totally receives the PCBDaily’s Stamp of Approval.

The Violet Blues Back at the Beach for a Limited Time!

The Violet Blues featuring Ashleigh Smith,  Jenne Weaver and Beth Beighey are a Folk/Blues/Soul trio based out of Nashville, TN with ties to the Gulf Coast area with two it’s members hailing from Panama City Beach, Florida.

For a limited time only, two of the three members will be doing some shows in the Panama City Beach for those of us who have missed their unique sound and warm harmonies.

They will be playing at some of the local hot spots so check out their tour lineup on their website www.thevioletblues.com  or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thevioletblues.

Here’s their lineup so far:

3/1 Morning & Midday News Panama City Beach, FL

Channel 2 WMBB News 13

3/2 Finn’s Island Style Grub Panama City, FL
St. Andrews location

3/4 Newby’s Back Door Lounge Panama City Beach, FL

3/7 Hook’d Pier Bar Panama City Beach, FL

3/9 Hook’d Pier Bar Panama City Beach, FL

3/11 Newby’s Back Door Lounge Panama City Beach, FL

3/14 Tin Lizzie’s Atlanta, GA

3/15 Tin Lizzie’s Atlanta, GA

3/16 Tin Lizzie’s Atlanta, GA

And for their friends in Nashville…come see them at The American Pickers Store: Antique Archaeology on Sunday 4/14 at 2:30PM!

Total List of Pier Park Stores, Restaurants and Shops

Pier Park, the 1.1 million square foot retail shopping adventure that has all but redefined the west end of Panama City Beach has been a hub of activity since it’s grand opening in February of 2008. With big brand anchors from Dillard’s to Ron Jon Surf Shop to smaller mom-and-pop shops that offer fun, local flair, Pier Park is the place to go whether you’re here vacationing or you’re a local looking to do some shopping.

I’ve spent many a’ Friday night or afternoon business lunches there and have witnessed the convenience of holding large-scale, outdoor celebratory events. Below is a complete list of shops, stores and restaurants in Pier Park.

Download the mall directory.



Department Stores and Anchors

Dillard’s———————————————– See map

Forever 21———————————————- See map

JCPenney———————————————— See map

Marshalls———————————————– See map

Old Navy———————————————— See map

Ron Jon Surf Shop————————————— See map

Target————————————————– See map

Women’s Fashion and Specialty

Aéropostale———————————————— G130

American Eagle Outfitters———————————- G210

Caché—————————————————— K152

Cariloha————————————————— B114

Chico’s—————————————————- G250

Coldwater Creek——————————————– G290

Columbia Sportswear—————————————- D125

Déjà Vu—————————————————- D186

Del Sol—————————————————- A130

Designed————————————————— A120

Earthbound Trading Co————————————– B180

Fashion Waves———————————————- B160

Forever 21———————————————–See map

Francesca’s Collections———————————— G230

French Charmed——————————————— C140

Guy Harvey Collection————————————– D130

Hollister Co———————————————– H120

Hy’s Toggery———————————————– D120

Irene & Co——————————————— D200

Jake at the Beach – Life is Good Shoppe——————– B150

Lane Bryant/Cacique—————————————- G340

Latitude 29———————————————— C150

LOFT——————————————————- K140

Maurices————————————————— H220

Marshalls———————————————– See map

Motherhood Maternity————————————— K160

New York & Company————————————- G310

Nike Factory Store—————————————– G270

Old Navy———————————————— See map

Paradise Found——————————————— D160

Peace Frogs———————————————— C180

Ron Jon Surf Shop————————————— See map

rue21—————————————————– F120A

Runway Collections—————————————– D160

Swim & Sport——————————————- G275

The Florida House—————————————— G200

Tilly’s—————————————————- H100

Tran Fashion———————————————– D146

University Gifts & Apparel—————————– C190

Victoria’s Secret—————————————— K150

Wet Seal————————————————— G100

Men’s Fashion and Specialty

Aéropostale———————————————— G130

American Eagle Outfitters———————————- G210

Columbia Sportswear—————————————- D125

Del Sol—————————————————- A130

Fashion Waves———————————————- B160

Guy Harvey Collection————————————– D130

Hollister Co———————————————– H120

Hy’s Toggery———————————————– D120

Jake at the Beach – Life is Good Shoppe——————– B150

Jos- A- Banks———————————————- G320

Marshalls———————————————– See map

Nike Factory Store—————————————– G270

Paradise Found——————————————— D160

Peace Frogs———————————————— C180

Ron Jon Surf Shop————————————— See map


Tilly’s—————————————————- H100

University Gifts & Apparel—————————– C190

Children’s Fashion and Specialty

Carters—————————————————- G100

Columbia Sportswear—————————————- D125

Del Sol—————————————————- A130

Guy Harvey Collection————————————– D130

Jake at the Beach – Life is Good Shoppe——————– B150

Justice—————————————————- G135

Laugh Out Loud (LOL)————————————— B170

Polka-Dots Toys & Gifts——————————– C130

The Summer House——————————————- C110

Men’s & Women’s Fashion and Specialty

Aéropostale———————————————— G130

American Eagle Outfitters———————————- G210

Columbia Sportswear—————————————- D125

Fashion Waves———————————————- B160

Guy Harvey Collection————————————– D130

Hollister Co———————————————– H120

Hy’s Toggery———————————————– D120

Jake at the Beach – Life is Good Shoppe——————– B150

Latitude 29———————————————— C150

Marshalls———————————————– See map

Nike Factory Store—————————————– G270

Paradise Found——————————————— D160

Peace Frogs———————————————— C180

Ron Jon Surf Shop————————————— See map


Swim & Sport——————————————- G275

Tilly’s—————————————————- H100

University Gifts & Apparel—————————– C190

Sporting Goods and Apparel

Columbia Sportswear—————————————- D125

Guy Harvey Collection————————————– D130

Nike Factory Store—————————————– G270

Ron Jon Surf Shop————————————— See map

Tilly’s—————————————————- H100

University Gifts & Apparel—————————– C190


Miracle Strip @ Pier Park——————————- See map

Mirror Maze/Laser Craze———————————— C220

Pirate’s Quest Laser Tag———————————– C216

Rum Runners Tropical Island Grill & Dueling Piano Bar– E140

The Grand Theatre/IMAX—————————– See map

Tootsies Orchid Lounge——————————– D100

Electronics, Books, Music, Movies & Cards

GameStop———————————————- B128

Hallmark – Cher’s————————————- G330

The Grand Theatre/IMAX—————————– See map

Jewelry and Watches

Charming Charlie—————————————K200

Dillard’s—————————————— See map

Francesca’s Collections——————————- G230

Irene & Co——————————————– D200

jcpenney——————————————- See map

Kay Jewelers——————————————-K130

Reed’s Jewelers—————————————-G280

Shimmering Seas Jewelry & Gifts————————B132

Zales Jewelers—————————————- J140

Restaurants and Food

Back Porch Seafood and Oyster House—————- See map

Bippy’s By The Beach Frozen Yogurt——————– A110

Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar————————-C230

Candymaker Candy Store———————————E110

Coastal Market—————————————–J160

Dick’s Last Resort——————————— See map

Five Guys Famous Burgers & Fries———————–D220

Great American Cookie/Pretzelmaker———————K120

Hana Japan———————————————E106

Hofbrau Beer Garden————————————C100

Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville——————— See map

Kilwin’s Chocolates & Ice Cream————————A150

Longhorn Steakhouse——————————Out Parcel

Marble Slab Creamery———————————–E104

Olive Garden————————————-Out Parcel

Panera Bread—————————————— J100

Pepper Palace——————————————B126

Popcorn Kingdom—————————————-C175

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers & Spirits——————–K100

RedBrick Pizza—————————————–A100

Reggae J’s Island Grill—————————- See map

Rum Runners Tropical Grill and Dueling Piano Bar——-E140

Schlotzsky’s & Cinnabon——————————- E115

Smok “N” Butts BBQ————————————-E120

Smoothie King——————————————A140

Starbucks Coffee—————————————E108


The Cantina——————————————- J110

Tootsies Orchid Lounge———————————D100

Shoes and Footwear

Crocs Footwear—————————————–C170

Famous Footwear—————————————-K210

Flip Flop Shop—————————————–H110

Hy’s Toggery——————————————-D120

Irene & Co———————————————D200


Nike Factory Store————————————-G270

Payless ShoeSource————————————-H230

Rack Room Shoes—————————————-F100

The Walking Company————————————K156


Tran Fashion——————————————-D146

Toys, Games and Hobbies


Laugh Out Loud (LOL)——————————–B170

Polka-Dots Toys & Gifts—————————–C130

Health, Drug Store, Bath and Beauty

Bath & Body Works———————————- G220

Cost Cutters————————————— C160

Fusion Spa Salon———————————– J116

General Nutrition Centers————————– J148

jcpenney Salon———————————- See map

Massage Envy————————————— E170

Nails So Happy————————————- E160

Regis———————————————- K174

ULTA Cosmetics————————————- H200

Victoria’s Secret———————————- K150

Zoom Tan——————————————- C155

Home Decor and Furnishings

As Seen on TV————————————– C120

Cariloha——————————————- B114

Earthbound Trading Co—————————— B180

French Charmed————————————- C140

The Florida House———————————- G200

The Summer House———————————– C110

Yankee Candle————————————– K164

Specialty Retail, Gifts and Luggage

Accessories on the Boardwalk———————– B122

As Seen on TV————————————– C120

Bath & Body Works———————————- G220

Cariloha——————————————- B114

Charming Charlie———————————– K200

Claire’s —————————————— F110

Coastal Market————————————- J160

Columbia Sportswear——————————– D125

Déjà Vu——————————————– D186

Del Sol——————————————– A130

Dollar Tree—————————————- K230

Earthbound Trading Co—————————— B180

Fashion Waves————————————– B160

Footprints Coastal Decor————————— B140

Forever 21————————————– See map

Francesca’s Collections—————————- G230

French Charmed————————————- C140

Guy Harvey Collection—————————— D130

Hallmark——————————————- G330

Irene & Co—————————————– D200

Latitude 29—————————————- C150

Laugh Out Loud (LOL)——————————- B170

Lids———————————————– G140

Paradise Found————————————- D160

Peace Frogs—————————————- C180

Perfumania—————————————– K168

Polka-Dots Toys and Gifts————————– C130

Shimmering Seas Jewelry & Gifts——————– B132

Sunglass Hut————————————— G240

Sunglass World————————————- A160

Swim & Sport————————————— G275

Tervis Tumbler————————————- D180

The Eye Gallery———————————— D190

The Florida House———————————- G200

The Summer House———————————– C110

Trader Tom’s Shells & Gifts———————— B118

University Gifts & Apparel————————- C190

Victoria’s Secret———————————- K150

Yankee Candle————————————– K164

Personal and Professional Services


Cost Cutters—————————————-C160

Counts-Oakes Resort Properties———————-E102

Emerald Coast Activities Center———————D148

Fusion Spa Salon————————————J116

jcpenney Salon———————————–See Map

Massage Envy—————————————-E170

Nails So Happy————————————–E160

Regions Bank——————————— Out Parcel


ULTA Cosmetics————————————- H200

Verizon Wireless———————————– J154

Aaron Bessant Park Amphitheater Structure is UP

In this third and final installment of construction updates in the Pier Park general area in Panama City Beach, the Aaron Bessant Park amphitheater has raised its hand and remarked that its structure is up and the roof is in place. Having been under construction for just a short period, you can actually see the final product as its come up from the ashes of the previous structure commonly referred to as “The Claw.”

For a recount of all the features this new amphitheater will have, click here.


In this shot you can see the entire front front of the new Aaron Bessant Park amphitheater.  If you’re down here, I highly recommend walking over to check it out in person.  It’s really quite large and very exciting!

This shot was taken from the back right (southwest) of the building.  Behind those already-colored walls will be the dressing rooms and admin office.  The large opening in the center under the peak of the roof structure will be where the hangar doors are that will be able to be opened.

This is a closer look at the large opening directly behind the stage.  For scale, you can see the man in the middle by the boards leaning on the scaffolding.  I’d assume he’s an average height.  The structure really is quite tall.

This shot is from the southeast side of the building.  The large opening in the middle of the shot on the easterly facing wall is where the tractor trailers could pull up and load/unload.

This gives you a better view of the loading/unloading area.

This is the new restroom facility behind the existing facility

This is a shot from the very back of the venue grounds.  Directly behind me and to the right is the bathroom facilities.  You can see from this shot that this will be a very sweet and grandly improved venue.  So exciting!!!

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.


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.

FREE Food and Fun at Pier Park this Saturday 11/3

Instead of asking what is going on this weekend…..maybe the question should be what is NOT going on this weekend?

Panama City Beach and her surrounding areas are growing and so is the list of things to do!  The exciting part is that list of events is growing more diverse, from fitness to funky to family fun like this weekend’s Fall Festival at Pier Park.  The Fall Festival is an annual event of Woodlawn United Methodist Church, this year marking the fourth year it is at Pier Park.

The event is open to the public and is at no cost to participants, with all food, games and treats like kettle corn, cotton candy and more for FREE.  Participants will also enjoy LIVE MUSIC and prizes.

Woodlawn UMC like many of the churches in our area, emphasizes service to their community, so the fall festival is just another way to give back.

Woodlawn hopes area families will take advantage of this FREE event and enjoy a few hours of fellowship and games with their loved ones.  The event is Saturday, November 3rd from 10 am to 2 pm.

The church can be reached at 850-234-3196 or you may visit their Facebook page.



Walk This Saturday….discover the UPS of DOWNS







Have you ever met anyone with Down Syndrome? If it wasn’t for the work of the Special Olympics or the warm-hearted cheerleader on GLEE would you even know what it looked like?

I think many of us would agree that fear comes from the unknown and being in small town USA, we are insulated from a lot of unknowns, like genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome, we don’t understand.

But did you know here in Bay County there are as many as 7 new families with children born with Down Syndrome?
On a national level one in every 733 babies in the United States is born with it, making it the most common genetic condition. About 6,000 babies are born with Down’s in the U.S every year.

But how would you know that? I didn’t until I spoke to a couple mother’s whose lives were affected….for the better, by the way. One woman, Shannon, whose family frequently visits our beaches, and hopes to call it home some day, shared with me about her experience very candidly.



Shannon’s son Lucas on our Beaches


After giving birth she looked at her baby Lucas, who is now the absolute light unto her path, and she knew before the doctor told her. She was terrified, she broke down into a “crying, snotty mess” she said. She realized that as a mother, one of her primal fears were ignited, something was “wrong” with her baby. But “wrong” turned out to be just “right” and the biggest blessing of her and her husband’s lifetime.

After the hormonal rush of pregnancy had subsided and she was able to reflect on her gutteral reaction she concluded most of her horror was based on pure ignorance. She had never met anyone with Down Syndrome before, she didn’t know anything about it, how was she going to take care of our baby? Isn’t that every mother’s fear that we will not somehow be equipped, i.e, good enough to take care of our children?

As I spoke with Shannon and she shared her story, her candor touched me, I thanked her for it. She simply said…”you know, your story is your story.”

Those words hit me in the face and I hope they leave a mark on yours. Your story is your story and it can be as sad or scary or beautiful as you want it to be. But before it is written, when it is still in the beginning and you don’t know what is going to happen…it can be pretty scary.

But it doesn’t have to be, you can reach out and find people to talk to, learn more about Aspergers and Autism and Down Syndrome and all of those things that terrify us because we don’t know any better. For Shannon, she read the blog by Kelle Hampton, a mother she not only connected to, but made her realize what an amazing gift she had been given.

Thankfully there are organizations that raise awareness of these issues that affect so many of new mother’s today.  October happens to be Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

If you want to learn more about Down Syndrome and have a fun, family friendly day outside, you are in luck for this Saturday, October 20th is the Annual Buddy Walk put on by Acton Up with Downs at Aaron Bessant Park next to Pier Park.

There will be lots to do at this event..Music…Food..
Children’s games and crafts…entertainment for all!
Dr. Shane of WPAP will be the MC and the Parrots Club will play music. Prosperity Bank will be keep our bellies full with hot dogs and hamburgers for all.

To find out more about this event, go to http://www.actonupwithdowns.org/ or just show up at Aaron Bessant Park this Saturday, October 20th at 9 am.

As one local parent put it….”Come out and learn more about people with Down Syndrome…and find out that we are all more alike than different.”

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. 😉