Marina Civic Center’s future in limbo until demolition bids get approved

Should the city tear down the Marina Civic Center or revamp it?
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:55 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Marina Civic Center in downtown Panama City continues to stir up debate.

However, Panama City leaders took the next steps in determining what’s next at Tuesday’s commission meeting.

They rejected a company’s proposal to demolish it.

“They didn’t have the qualifications,” Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki said. “Number two, they didn’t give us a bid, so we’re just gonna put it out for hard bid to someone who has the qualifications.”

Some city leaders say tearing it down is the most cost-effective option.

“It’s something that’s reasonable,” Brudnicki said. “The building, according to three engineering firms, is sick. It needs to come down. It’ll cost more money to fix it than it would be to recreate it.”

The commission also gave the green light to advertise for other bids that could get the job done. Funding still remains a number one concern, though.

“We have $5 million for the civic center,” Panama City Commissioner Jenna Haligas said. “We really got to look at what the facts are.”

That $5 million figure is a stark difference to the estimated $170-million performing arts and events center proposed last year.

“We need to get a solid number,” Haligas said. “That’s what basically came out of this [meeting.] How expensive is it going to be?”

Determining the demolition cost is also a main priority. However, a number of Panama City residents said they want the Marina Civic Center to stay.

“What I would like to see done, is first thing, leave it alone,” concerned resident Michael Rohan said. “Right now we’re talking about maybe $70 million. They’re throwing several figures. They’re throwing $70 million, they’re throwing $200 million, so we really don’t know where we’re going and what it’s going to cost. In my opinion, the best thing to do right now is simply leave it alone.”

It’s all a waiting game at this point. City leaders are also considering building a new one at a different site, using part of the Marina Civic Center to replace it, or tearing it down and building another one in its place. They said the demolition bids should be completed by early summer. The bids will also give them a clearer direction on how to move forward with the project.