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Highway 79 corridor exploding with new developments

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 10:21 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Highway 79 is the corridor to tourists and residents alike, whether you’re coming or going. With that, you may have noticed big things are also coming to that area.

Mike Kerrigan with the St. Joe Company said the landscape and intercoastal waterway makes this area perfect for new developments. Kerrigan said more people are realizing what a great place Panama City Beach and Bay County are to not only vacation, but live.

“We’re seeing more full-time, year-round residents in the area and those folks need places to work and places to shop and get healthcare, education, those sorts of things. I think all of those projects will really serve those folks and meet those needs that are here today and that we expect in the future,” said Kerrigan.

Kerrigan said the Latitude Margaritaville Watersound community is welcoming its first residents. They just announced plans for the Watersound West Bay Center adjacent to the 55 and better community. This outside lifestyle shopping center is 350,000 square feet of retail shops, restaurants, and office spaces. Just south of the corridor, Kerrigan said there will be a medical campus and multi-phase residential community.

Bay County Director of Community Development Ian Crelling said they make these development decisions based on demand and growth in the market.

“I think you’ve seen the last two years, especially with redevelopment from Hurricane Michael that the Beach is a popular area. People are wanting to move here, people have second homes, I think some people during the pandemic had second homes and came down here and it’s been more of a popular place to come,” said Crelling.

An announcement was made Wednesday morning at the Bay Economic Development Alliance meeting that Tallahassee Memorial Health will be partnering with Florida State’s College of Medicine to bring the new medical campus to the intersection of Highway 79 and Philip Grifits Senior Parkway.

Kerrigan said there is no timeline for when they can expect all of the projects to be complete.

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