New Airport Coverstory for Southeast Real Estate Business News

Southeast Real Estate Business News, a trade publication for the real estate industry, featured the construction of the new Panama City – Bay County International Airport as its July 2009 cover story.

According to the story:

The facility is the first piece in the West Bay Sector Plan, a mixed-use project destined for Panama City, Florida, and surrounding areas. The aggressive but environmentally responsible development strategy calls for residential, commercial and industrial space spread across 75,000 acres.

One large advantage of the plan is that it’s easy to build to each tenant’s specifications. With so much greenfield land available for developing, officials at large companies can easily come in, commit to a space and mold it to their requirements. “Most of the time, your options are limited because you have a small piece of land and everything around it is already developed,” Slappey says. “The advantage is that if you have a big user that comes in and wants this, that and the other, it’s easier to accommodate them because you have a lot more land to maneuver around.”

The full article can be read here.

15 Things to Know About the Development of the Old Airport Site

Leucadia National Corporation/CAR/SABLC: Leucadia National Corporation is the parent company of Community Airport Redevelopment, which was changed to the St. Andrew Bay Land Company.  Leucadia has home offices in Salt Lake City, UT and New York City.  Labeled as a “mini Berkshire Hathaway” as noted in their Wiki page, Leudadia was a $6.6 billion company in 2006 generating revenue in a variety of ways including mining & drilling services, telecommunications, health-care services, manufacturing, banking and lending, real estate, and winery businesses.  Other notable developments by Leucadia include Rosemary Beach and Draper Lake.

The community will be walkable: With 703 acres, the property consists of a little more than a square mile.  From the center, it would take approximately 10 minutes to walk to the edge of the property, and from one end to another a walk would take around 10 minutes; unless you’re a speed walker, in which it would take about 8.3 minutes.  Although little design conceptuals have been made, it is anticipated that it will be an open community that is very ped-friendly.

3,200 total residential units: The development has the capacity to hold 3,200 residential units with an expected spread of approximately 60% single family and 40% multi-family (including condos and townhomes).  Development time-tables will be completely subject to market demand and the expected build-out time is in upwards of 15 years.

Wide open community areas: Some of the discussions the other day included creating an area that Panama City could collect for events and holidays and enjoy company and the water.  Right now, Panama City has no area like Pier Park to hold these community events.  I believe Panama City could greatly benefit from this.  If they were to bring in the right marketing team and layout the initial public development right, they could create a community before there’s actually a community there.  Talk about buzz.

Multiple points of access: Feeding into the community are 8 points of access varying the ways with which to handle the out-flow and in-flow of the increased traffic.  Access roads include Frankford, Airport Road, Lisenby, Airport Circle, Baldwin, W 39th Street, and Jackson Way.

700,000 square foot of commercial/retail: Some mixed among the residential, others in concentrated areas, there will be approximately 700,000 square feet of commercial and retail area.  Right now, there are plans to have a “Town Center” in the middle of the community that will house the tallest of the structures, in addition to a higher concentration of retail.  There will be a small lake with a boardwalk around it and the buildings will have retail on the first floors, office space on the second floors with residential above that.

Height limitations set at 120 feet: I was told that even though maximum height is set for 120 feet as defined by the zoning (light industrial), the maximum planned height at this time is 80 feet.  In addition, the maximum height buildings will be in the center of the development, reserving the water-frontage for 2 and 3 stories.

Nothing available to purchase until 2012: The St. Andrew Bay Land Company will take possession of the land the day after the airport operations are moved to the new airport site.  Upon possession, it is estimated that infrastructure installation will take approximately 1 year with real estate product available to purchase last 2011 or early 2012.  The SABLC may build some, but it is expected that they will sell plats to developers to handle build out once infrastructure is in place.

Tons of green space: All the green areas depicted in the images will be open park-like areas that may have open grassy areas, trees, nature trails and the like.  The idea, again, is to create a pedestrian-friendly community that encourages the natural beauty of the Bay County area.

No water-front buildings: There will be plenty of water views to be had from residential units, but nothing will be right on the water, cutting off access from the general public.  The design is intended to keep the pristine areas pristine, and enjoyable by everyone.  There will be large open areas in between the buildings and the water.

All open to the public: The whole community will be open to the public.  Amenities such as shopping, dining and the marina will be open for everyone to enjoy and the community will not be gated.

150 boat marina: Quenching the thirst for much needed wet slip space, this new community will house a 150 slip marina capable of accommodating vessels up to 60 feet.  The marina depth will be 6 feet.  There is only one small spot on the whole plot of waterfrontage that will accept a marina without having a negative environmental impact; located at the top, close to where the runway terminates into the bay right now.

Marina to be developed first: Right now, talks include developing the marina first, in addition to around 10 shops and restaurants with some residential above around the marina.  The idea is to give something to the community that is usable right now (or in a couple years) until the demand for real estate product comes back.  The conversations I had were very interesting in that for once, I was talking to a developer that wasn’t acting like a developer, but a rational, reasonable person.  With my background in preconstruction sales and marketing I have quite a bit of experience working with developers and new developments, and it always seems like they are drinking their own cool-aid; not so with these guys.  They were very much verbal about the current conditions of the market and were very open with the fact that at this time its hard to tell where the market will be in two years.  This, by the way, is exactly opposite the outlook of most of the developers I’d worked with in the past.  typically with a new development such as this, you’d expect to hear aggressive development time-lines.  I was pleasantly surprised and very impressed with their level-headed outlook.

The developmental options are plenty: They’ve kept the initial planned layout open so as to offer a wide variety of developmental options.  With plats around 500 by 260 feet, it will be easy to determine where single family versus multi family will go in the future, based on market demand.  The plats are large enough to accommodate an alley system, should they decide to go that route.

Sasaki Associates brought in to help with initial planning: Sasaki and Associates are known for their master planning of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Ruston Town Center in Virginia, The Woodlands in Houston TX, Charleston South Carolina Waterfront Park, and Harbor Town in Hilton Head, just to name a few.

7 Ways for PCB to Get Ready for the New Airport


Brand New Name:
This is a big one.  What’s in a name?  Everything.  A name identifies what something is and can convey the magnitude of its existence.  Panama City-Bay County International Airport just isn’t going to cut it for a 10,000 foot 4,000 acre international airport capable of receiving the largest of passenger jets from anywhere in the world.  We need a name that conveys a much larger representation.  Suggestions here on Pcbdaily have included Sunshine State International Airport, Emerald Coast International Airport, Florida International Airport, Gulf of Mexico International Airport, and Southern U.S. Intercontinental Airport.  Several readers in a previous post emphasized their favor towards Emerald Coast International Airport.  This name will literally be in front of millions, and the first impression that is imminent needs to be great.

Better Sense of Arrival on Highway 79:
What is the first thing fliers will see when they are driving down to our beautiful snow-white sand beaches?  A newly widened road with power lines and no landscaping; snore.  We need to excite them with a fantastic sense of arrival, a road adorned with huge, gorgeous palm trees, lush green grass, sidewalks, curbs, street lights, and underground utilities.  Put simply, it needs to look just like Beckrich , ‘er’uh’ R. Jackson Blvd.  This is another one of those “first-impression” things that we can’t afford to screw up.  I know that “officials” will say that there is a reason that we are doing the CRA in the order that it’s being done, but we need to find a way to change it up.  Highway 79 needs to be top priority, then next Front Beach Road needs to be addressed.

Improve Front Beach Road First:
It was remarked in another post’s comments that more emphasis needs to be placed on Front Beach Road’s improvements than on the improvements of the north/south corridors.  This is so true, tourists spend most of their time driving on Back Beach Road and Front Beach Road and very little time on the roads taking them in between.  Why did we spend money improving Churchwell, then Beckrich first?  Now we’re moving onto south and north Thomas Drive?  I know these areas needed improvements, badly, but we need to focus on what is more responsible regarding servicing our number one customers, tourists.  They don’t care what Beckrich looks like, they don’t EVER drive on Churchwell , but they see (and remark to me all the time, frankly) the ugly power lines and crave sidewalks to accent their stay with a little recreation.  This needs to be addressed NOW.

We’ve Got to Reintroduce Ourselves to the World:
Known as the redneck riviera and the spring break capital of the world (I don’t even want to dignify those titles with capital letters) we’ve got to totally re-introduce ourselves to the world.  Comments that came out of recent focus group sessions that took place in Atlanta discussing Panama City Beach were very revealing.  100% of the people in attendance had traveled to Panama City Beach, yet we were given the least favorable rating when compared to neighboring destinations.  Quoting a commenter, Bryan Durta, explaining remarks of some of the focus group attendees, “Negative comments included tacky, kinda like being at a bar with a bunch of drunks, dirty, rednecky, party city, too honky-tonky, and lots of cigarette butts on the beach.”  We need people to not only think of us as a classy destination that they’d want to come back to in a heart beat, but a classy destination that they’d recommend to their friends just as quick.  How do we do this?  We do this through innovative PR and Marketing efforts, much of which is much under way – bravo Jennifer Barbee Inc. and the CVB Marketing Team.

We Need a Year-round Destination
Every year businesses across the beach close down to save on expenses because the cost of operating exceeds the money they make during the winter season.  In Panama City Beach, we need to create more things for winter travelers to do so as to attract some of that shoulder-season money.  Right now, there are quite a few events that bolster weekend traffic during a time in which long weekends are king, but we need more.  And, they have to be good, real good.  We’re doing great, but we need to do better.  Events like the Panama City Beach Seafood Music and Wine Festival and Pier Park’s New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop have been immensely successful in the past, and will continue to bring people to our beaches year after year.  In addition, we need to better market to our winter-traveling retired friends.  We need to be sure that we have promotional materials created speaking directly to them and ensure they know we exist.

Transportation Sector:
In order for us to prepare for all the new people that will be traveling to our little slice of paradise, we need to centralize our transit system and educate our “transportation representatives”, aka cab-drivers.  We need a standardized licensing and education system to be sure that the first people that our tourists spend time with are not only knowledgeable, but that they are courteous as well.  In addition, in order to ensure a pleasurable experience, we need to be sure that the cab cars are of consistent quality and that the first impression of our new visitors is great enough to keep them coming back for years to come.

Standardized Hospitality Training
Here we go on the training thing again, but it is just so important.  Who is the first person you see when you check into your resort on vacation?  The person working the front desk.  So, if that person is grouchy, or doesn’t speak English or is just plain rude – how will that set the stage for your vacation?  I wouldn’t feel happy, and neither would many tourists.  The Resort Collection of Panama City Beach’s Edgewater Beach Resort teamed up with Gulf Coast Community College last fall to create a 20 hour training course that provides the hospitality and tourism businesses in our community with a consistent industry wide training program to increase customer service standards and the customer’s experience while visiting our destination.  This not only ensures that the people meeting our visitors are trained in how to interact with them, but that they are interacting in a quality that is consistent all down the beach.

Gov Crist Here, Comments on Airport, No Education Cuts, and Offshore Oil Drilling

Dancing on the animated floor projection, Governor Charlie Crist made an appearance at the Panama City Beach’s Chamber of Commerce last Tuesday to attend a “round-table” meeting with 10 of the leaders of the Panama City Beach community.  Among many topics, the dynamics involved with education funding, offshore drilling, and the new Panama City-Bay County Airport were discussed.

A restricted schedule kept the questions to a minimum, but 5 were able to address the Governor including Anthony DuBose on the lending industry, Al McCambry on private vs public education funding, Dan Rowe on offshore drilling, Tom Morgan about the new airport, and Gary Walsingham regarding college funding.  The answers varied and actually resulted in around 50 minutes of video footage.

Starting off discussing the housing market, Governor Crist talked about the current 10% annual cap on property taxes for 2nd homes and businesses and the possiblity of that being cut in half, should the people of Florida vote on it on the November 2010 ballot.  The Florida legislature just passed this to be on the ballot.  In addition, there will also be a 25% reduction in property taxes to first-time homebuyers.

Governor Crist also commented on state-wide education in that when he first came into office, Education Weekly ranked Florida education 31st out of 50 in the United States.  Last year, the state of Florida was ranked 14th and this year Florida ranked 10, marking a clear improvement, Crist said.  The Governor humbly credited his predecessor Gov Jeb Bush for setting in play most of what led to the increase in quality education in Florida.

Regarding offshore drilling, Governor Crist voiced his opinion in support of drilling citing that if “it’s safe enough, far enough and clean enough,” then he thinks we should do it.  He discussed a new technology that was presented to him three weeks ago that placed a mushroom-shaped dome on the ocean floor that housed all the oil extraction equipment so that no surface equipment would be needed any longer.  He said that this could be the future of drilling and could lead to less environmental risk.  “I believe the founders of our country signed the Declaration of Independence, not the Declaration of Dependence,” said Crist, describing how we need to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil.

Governor Crist commented on the airport saying that the timing couldn’t be better to help push this part of Florida into prosperous economic times.  Enterprise Florida, a new initiative to grow industry in the State of Florida has the potential to spread its influence further into the Bay County area, and Crist said that is largely due to the economic opportunities the new airport will make possible.  There lies huge opportunity in the aerospace, bio-engineering, cargo, and more.  Crist, excited about the opportunity, “This is so much the right thing to do.”

Crist also cited that there was an increase in education funding to the tune of $2.1 billion which will lead to about $43 million in increased funding for community colleges and $100 million in increased funding for university-level colleges.

In attendance:

  • Beth Oltman, President/CEO of the Panama City Beach Chamber
  • Anthony DuBose, President of Coastal community Insurance and PCB Chamber
  • Mayor Gayle Oberst of Panama City Beach
  • Philip Griffitts Jr., Owner of Sugar Sands Inn and Suites
  • Paul Wohlford, VP Sales and Marketing of the Resort Collection of Panama City Beach
  • Marty McDaniel, President of Oaseas Resorts, Chairman of the Bay County TDC
  • Dan Rowe, President of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Jessica Pfefferkorn, Commanding Officer, Naval Support Activity Panama City
  • Robert Carroll, Vice President, McNeil Carroll Engineering
  • Al McCambry, General Manager of Knology
  • Karen Blackerby, Vice President of Magnum Capital
  • Jack Bishop, Restaurant Owner
  • Steve Counts, President of Counts Real Estate Group
  • Gary Walsingham, CEO Walsingham Investment/Ripley’s Beleive It or Not
  • Elizabeth Walters, Attorney/Partner of Burke Blue Hutchison Walters & Smith
  • Edy Rivard, Gulf Coast Medical
  • Tom Morgan, St. Joe

All Legal Actions Against Airport are Over

A recent ruling ended all pending legal actions against the airport as the United States Court of Appeals denied all legal challenges to the relocation of the Panama City Bay County International Airport.  The legal challenges were brought upon by The National Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife and Friends of PFN, who argued against the FAA and Airport on January 23, 2008.  Baring an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, all legal challenges should be over.

Here is the press release:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on May 1 denied a pending petition for review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Record of Decision approving the relocation of the Panama City – Bay County International Airport to a new site in West Bay, Florida.

The National Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife and Friends of PFN argued against the FAA and Airport on January 23, 2008.  The court ruling denying the petition for review ends all pending legal challenges to the airport relocation, absent a petition for rehearing or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The new airport is currently under construction and is 55% complete.  The Panama City – Bay County Airport and Industrial Board’s current schedule anticipates a May 2010 opening for the first international airport built in the United States since Denver International Airport was completed in 1995.

The airport is being built on 4,000 acres donated by The St. Joe Company (NYSE: JOE) and is part the West Bay Sector Plan, a 75,000-acre regional planning effort, one of the largest ever in Florida.

The West Bay Sector Plan includes 41,000 acres of conservation land.  Already approximately 10,000 acres have been permanently protected through an irrevocable conservation easement to the State of Florida as a result of the relocation of the airport.  Ultimately, 33 miles of undeveloped West Bay shoreline and an additional 44 miles of creeks and tributaries that feed the bay will be protected forever.

“We are very grateful to the Court for its conscientious consideration of the case,” said Airport Authority Vice Chairman Bill Cramer.  “I do not believe that a petition for rehearing or appeal will be successful if attempted.  Therefore, the Court’s ruling should bring full closure to all pending legal challenges. We continue to move forward building an airport that will better serve Bay County and Northwest Florida for many decades to come.”

In it’s ruling, the Court found:

  1. The FAA complied with the procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in evaluating the proposal to build the new airport at West Bay, and
  2. The FAA’s decision that no prudent alternatives to the proposed West Bay Site existed was “not arbitrary, capricious, and abuse of discretion or otherwise contrary to law.”

“We are focused on building a state-of-the-art facility that will be one of the greenest airports in the world,” said Cramer.  “The Court’s ruling and the consequent resolution of all pending legal challenges will provide a boost to our airline marketing and business recruitment efforts.”

“The Court’s action last week represents another important milestone in our effort to improve air service for the people of Bay County and Northwest Florida,” said Airport Authority Chairman Joe Tannehill.  “We are now past the halfway point with construction.  We are ramping up our airline and economic development marketing efforts, and we have redoubled our commitment to building and operating a ‘green’ airport.  We are looking forward to opening the new airport in less than thirteen months.”

Walton County TDC to Raise Bed Tax for New PC Airport

Following in the footsteps of Bay County, Walton County is looking to increase their bed tax from 4 cents to 4.5 cents.  The anticipated increase in revenue is expected to be around $1 million.

If approved, the TDC plans to use the funds to step up their marketing efforts for the Emerald Coast and attract a low-cost carrier to the new airport slated to open in Panama City of Highway 388 in May 2010.  The ultimate goal is to help attract more businesses to the Walton County area.   Walton County is right next to Bay County and stand to benefit greatly from the development of the new airport.

Other ideas for the use of the increased revenue include a new complex that could include sports fields, an amphitheater and performing-arts venue.

As with in Bay County, Walton County has its own set of opponents claiming that there is no real plan of action for how to spend the funds, and that the ideas seem to “flip-flop”.

The vote will be in front of Walton County Commissioners tomorrow night at their regularly scheduled meeting.


Southwest Airlines was mentioned several times at Wednesday’s TDC meeting during a presentation about the results of a marketing study.

The presentation, given to show the possible new markets that the new airline would serve, focused on the cities Southwest already flies out of. The top five markets are Nashville, Houston, Orlando, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Mares said that with the right marketing, the local tourism industry could reach more than 3 million households that fit the demographic profile of visitors to South Walton.

The study determined the top markets by categorizing visitors by age, income and net worth. Also included was information such as their preferred lodging and dining preferences, magazines they read and the television and radio programs they listen to.

New Airport Aerial Pictures and Update

Contract 1: Heavy Civil and Airfield Lighting
Approximately 80% of the contract work is complete with only 55.8% of the contract time used.

Underground utilities are being installed in the General Aviation area.
Fine grading along the runway is continuing.
Seeding is ongoing in the North section of the site.
Installation of the centerline lighting cans is approximately 75% complete.

Approximately 115 pieces of heavy equipment are in operation at any one time with approximately 160 personnel on site for the heavy civil (contract 1) and utilities (contract 3) contracts.

Contract 2: Terminal Building, ATCT and Support Buildings
Approximately 18% of contract work is complete with 25% of contract time utilized.

All shoring has been removed from Area A.
Installation of re-steel on Level 2 of Area B is complete.
Beginning to prep the slab on grade between areas B and C.

Air Traffic Control Tower:
Pile cap complete using approximately 350 cubic yards of concrete.
Beginning to form up the 1st level.

Air Maintenance Facility:
Backfilling of maintenance pit is complete. Preparing for slab on grade.

Air Cargo Facility:
Installation of pre-engineered metal building is ongoing.

Public Safety Building:
Completed concrete pour of perimeter footings/elevator footing.

Rental Car Facility:
Completing installation of underground utilites.

The average manpower on site for Contract 2 per day is 105 people based on a five day work week. Manpower on Saturdays is approximately 31 people.

Contract 3: Utility Contract
Approximately 18% of contract work is complete with 15% of contract time utilized.

Main Access Road:
3W2” Power Distribution Duct Bank: 53% complete.
Street light duct work: 65% complete.

Joyner Road:
24” water main: 90% complete.

GA Access Road:
30” water main: 45% complete.

Lift Station:
30% complete.

CR-388 & Main Entrance:
8” Directional Drill is complete.


Project Update – New Panama City Airport

Contract 1: Heavy Civil and Airfield Lighting

On the Heavy Civil and Airfield Lighting contract, the construction team has completed 75% of the contract work and used only 51% of the contract time.  The following milestones have been reached:

  • 85% of the 15” concrete paving lanes have been placed on 8,400 linear feet of Runway 16-34.
  • Runway 16-34 Touch Down Zone and Centerline light cans are being set.
  • On Taxiway D and main terminal apron, all lime rock base and the first lift of asphalt paving is in place.

Production volumes in place are as follows:

  • 62,354 tons of asphalt pavement in place (both airside and landside).
  • 151,307 square yards of landside lime rock base and 130,885 square yards of flightline P-211 lime rock base have been installed in accordance with the project specifications.
  • 47,000 cubic yards of the 67,200 cubic yards of 15” concrete runway pavement is in place.
  • 98% of the original RCP storm sewer installations are complete (33,086 linear feet).
  • 66,258 linear feet of perforated under-drain has been installed along the taxiways and runways (42% of total).Storm sewer installation within the General Aviation Area is 30% complete.
  • 5.7 million cubic yards of earth has been moved (99% of total).
  • Mass grading within Pond C now 98% complete.
  • 105 pieces of heavy equipment in operation at any one time with approximately 123 personnel on site.

Contract 2:  Terminal Building, ATCT and Support Buildings

On the Terminal Building, ATCT and Support Buildings contract, the construction team has completed 14% of contract work and utilized 19% of the contract time.  Specific work includes the following:

  • Terminal: Shoring for Level 2 areas B and C continues in the terminal building.
  • Terminal: Plumbing rough-in continues.
  • Air Traffic Control Tower: Excavation around auger cast piles is complete and ready for installation of pile cap.
  • Air Cargo Facility: Completed slab pour at truck well/forming retaining walls.
  • Public Safety Building: Rebar at perimeter footings nearly complete.

Contract 3:  Utility Contract

On the Utility Contract, the construction team has completed 4% of contract work and utilized 6% of the contract time.  On the Main Access Road:

  • 12” water main:  38% complete
  • 8” force main:  38% complete
  • 3W2” Power Distribution Duct Bank: 26% complete
  • Street light duct work: 36% complete


West Bay Parkway

A proposed road from State Highway 77 in Bay County to Highway 98 in Walton County is up for discussion.  Initially, the two lane Highway 388 that runs by the new airport will be widened to 4 lanes between Highway 79 and Highway 77.

The new addition to the roadway will extend from Highway 79 west to Highway 98 in Walton County just east of Peach Creek.  I’m unsure at this point how they will get over the water – maybe use the Highway 79 bridge as the connector?

Through a series of public meetings, planners will devise strategic development plans and engineering ideas to bring together both new sections of the proposed roadway.  Early estimates for the planning portion of the widening Highway 388 ring in at around 36 months.

Thursday, January 22 a public workshop will be held at the Panama City Beach City Hall at the intersection of Back Beach Road and Highway 79 from 5:30 to 7 pm.

Video of the New Airport

Well, someone else has outdone me.  There is a new video of the new Panama City airport up in West Bay that has been posted to the web site.

Of course, I could probably put something together equally as awesome had I been given the opportunity to get on a helicopter!  Kidding, but not really.  Actually, I don’t know how to do those cool transitions – after effects?

Anyway, kudos to the creater – this vid is awesome.
Panama City/Bay County Airport Preview from Greg Wineman on Vimeo.