[su_pullquote]Reprinted without any permission or warning from this article, BY KATIE LANDECK– News Herald Reporter.
PANAMA CITY — City Hall is on the move.
Calling it “good business,” Panama City commissioners unanimously voted during their Tuesday meeting to purchase the former Trustmark Bank at 509 Harrison Ave. and convert it into the next city hall.
“The timing is good,” Mayor Greg Brudnicki said. “It’s a good business decision. I think the city has spent the time and the effort to really make sure we are doing the right thing.”
The city has been considering relocating city hall for more than a year to make way for the redevelopment of the Panama City Marina. A study by consulting firm ZHA last October concluded the current city hall property was too valuable to be used as a government building and that the city needed more space anyway.
The findings kicked off a hunt for a new location, which led city officials to the Trustmark property. At 60,000 square feet, it’s more than double the size of the current City Hall and exceeds the 57,500 square foot recommendation ZHA put forward, leaving room for growth.
It also keeps City Hall in the historic downtown, which was one of the commission’s goals.
Although the commission has approved the contract, several safeties are in place. The city has to put down a $25,000 deposit, but it’s refundable until Oct. 26 if the commission decides to back out. The closing isn’t scheduled until Nov. 28. If the city backs out between those dates, Trustmark will be able to keep the deposit.
The timetable is built around Sonnenblick, the developer the city hired in May to develop the marina project. Sonnenblick is supposed to provide the city with updates on its plans before the Oct. 26 and Nov. 28 deadlines, to help the commission make informed decisions.
“This is not the city jumping the gun,” City Manager Jeff Brown said. “We’re relatively assured (Sonnenblick) is doing something on this property.”
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