|By Ali Helgoth, The News Herald, Panama
City, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 28, 2011--PANAMA CITY -- Plans for a seven-story hotel and marina fronting Massalina Bayou are in the works, and the developers hope it will be just the start of downtown revitalization.
The downtown $39 million, 168-unit Embassy Suites Hotel & Marina planned by Massalina Investments would be on 3.25 acres south of Luverne Avenue and Third Court near McKenzie Park. It's the site that once was slated to be Massalina Commons, an 11-store condominium complex that was not built after the downturn in the housing market.
"We feel that this will be the spark that will ignite so much other activity," said Lacy Curry, managing member of the project.
The developers are in the beginning stages of the project, working with Worldwide Hilton on the site and naming plans and working to obtain financing.
A hearing on the goal to obtain guaranteed loan funds from Housing and Urban Development is scheduled for today's City Commission meeting, which begins at 4 p.m. The federal agency's 108 Loan Guarantee Program is a source of financing for a number of uses, including economic development, and it would serve as a guarantee that the developers would meet financial obligations.
Joel Cowan Jr., a member of the development group, said marina slips are being rented and that will continue. Some slips would be reserved for the hotel's guests.
Curry said whether the project moves forward will depend on financing, so a timeline for when construction could begin has not been made.
If the project is completed, Curry said the hotel would create more than 100 permanent jobs and, he said, should have a more far-reaching effect on downtown with increased foot traffic from those staying at the hotel and from those who attend functions there.
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Copyright (c) 2011, The News Herald, Panama City, Fla.
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