PANAMA CITY BEACH, FL– –The St. Joe Co. and Panama City have signed a long-term lease to bring a new hotel and restaurant to the downtown waterfront. Under the lease, St. Joe will lease urban land for the development, construction and operation of a waterfront hotel and standalone restaurant on a portion of the Panama City Marina property off beautiful St. Andrews Bay.
It took almost two years of planning, discussion and public meeting to reach this agreement.
St. Joe initially expressed interest in the project in a letter to the city in September 2018, and reiterated that interest in November this year after Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm, caused significant damage to the city center.
"We are making this investment in downtown Panama City with the expectation that it can be a catalyst for other investments that will make downtown Panama City a vibrant destination to live, work and visit over time," said Jorge Gonzalez, President and CEO of St. Joe, in prepared remarks.
The hotel and restaurant are the first step in realizing the strategic vision for the historic downtown area of 2019 created by the design firm Dover Kohl & Partners.
The rental property and most of downtown Panama City are located in an opportunity zone. St. Joe created an OZ fund for downtown Panama City.
Under the lease, St. Joe pays the city a rent based on the performance of the proposed hotel and restaurant. St. Joe intends to fund the hotel and restaurant project with no city or public funding.
A five-story brand hotel in the western part of the marina with an adjoining restaurant with outdoor restaurants is currently planned for the project.
Upon completion, the proposed hotel and restaurant will be managed by St. Joe Resort Operations, a St. Joe subsidiary that operates hotels, restaurants and other hotel facilities in northwest Florida. The company manages three existing hotels and another four hotels are currently under development or under construction. A fifth hotel is expected to lay the foundation stone in the coming weeks.
The company intends to break new ground in the second quarter of 2021.