FBR CRA – Underground Utilities Almost Done, Scenic Ponds Getting Close

by October 29, 2010 • 10 comments

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about the CRA, and frankly, it’s not looked like a lot of progress has been made – on the surface.  But, most of the work that has happened to date, has been mostly out of sight.  “During initial phases of construction, most of the work involves underground utilities, we dig stuff up, bury it back, dig up more stuff, and bury it again,” said Mario Gisbert, the Panama City Beach Assistant City Manager.

Much of the underground utility work is done on South Thomas Drive, including the new water main.  The entire water system on South Thomas Drive has been replaced and all water is being fed on the new system.  Mario explained the complexities of the expansion, describing that the old underground utility systems are where the new ones need to go, so it’s essential to get each system in place (water first, then power, then storm water last) and operational before they get started on the next component.

Here is more in depth information about this portion of the CRA.

The section of the CRA they are working on is along South Thomas Drive and a section of Front Beach Road.  South Thomas Drive is the road that Boardwalk Beach Resort, Pineapple Willys, Laketown Wharf and Shores of Panama are on.  The section of Front Beach Road they are working on includes the stretch in between Laketown Wharf (the other side) and Wal-Mart, up to include the intersection of Front Beach Road and Middle Beach Road.

CRA stands for Community Redevelopment Area and is the element that is charged with infrastructure improvements in Panama City Beach.

There are two storm water retention ponds being build in this section of the CRA.  But “storm water retention” sounds so tacky, so we’ll call them amenity ponds from now on, since, after all, they will be made into amenities, will at one point be dedicated and given names.  Both of the ponds are done from an infrastructure stand-point, with their feed pipes installed and ready to accept storm water.  Right now, they are working to get the pretty stuff in place, including walkways, boardwalks, prepping for brick pavers and landscaping.

Each pond will have a “viewing platform” that are essentially concrete walls, but they will be covered with stacked stone and adorned with hand-rails.  The pond next to the McDonalds by Wal-Mart will have picnic tables and umbrellas and the pond across from Boardwalk Beach Resort, next to Alvin’s Island will have a large boardwalk by Front Beach Road, and a lighted sidewalk around the outside of the pond.

The entire portion of the CRA project is expected to be complete by the end of 2011.

Enough text, lets look at some pictures.


This is the full spectrum of this portion of the CRA. You can see the intersection improvements. The southern pond is by Boardwalk Beach Resort, the northern pond is next to McDonalds.

This is the pond that will be by the McDonalds. The white area to the right is where McDonalds is.

This is the pond by Alvin's Island and Boardwalk Beach Resort. You can see the boardwalk area along the street.

Here are some photos I took this morning.

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1 Greggt October 29, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I think all these improvements are great! One question, on the Grand Lagoon Bridge project underway, are they going to move the utilities underground there too or are we still going to have all those ugly power poles?


2 Bearabull October 29, 2010 at 4:14 pm

You mention most of the utilities are done on S. Thomas drive, but your new photos you can see all the telephone poles.


3 captgeobob October 30, 2010 at 7:38 am

I can see the ponds now, full of plastic bags and other trash. I hope not, but if they are anything like any of the others I’ve seen they will accumalate trash.


4 Gerald R October 30, 2010 at 8:11 am

The area will be a great improvement in an area that needed an upgrade. Unfortunately, this stage of the project will leave out the short Thomas Drive stretch from Alvin’s to Joan Avenue.


5 Gail A. October 30, 2010 at 11:46 am

Happy to see our tax dollars being used for a much needed upgrade. Thanks for the pics Jason.


6 Doug October 30, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Love your update, what about the bridge down by Captain Anderson’s?


7 Cathy November 2, 2010 at 8:50 pm

We noticed all this construction while down in September & October….. I think any improvements are good, especially up around McDonalds & Wal-Mart. I had heard while down in PCB that there is to be a new super Wal-Mart and the one on 98 will be closed, is this true for the future or a rumor?
The bridge over by Capt. Anderson’s is looking good, that has been needed for years now.


8 G November 3, 2010 at 7:21 am

I hope they will put underground utilities all down the beaches – Sunnyside, Laguna, and west…


9 underground utilities February 13, 2012 at 12:32 am

Yes you are right that the South Thomas Drive has been replaced and all water, and the pictures that you have share are brilliant and absolutely magnificent to see!


10 JOE JEZEWSKI October 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm

The new bridge by Cap’t. Anderson’s is nice, but a little complaint…..EVERYTIME I roll across it, I am upset that you cannot SEE the beautiful scenic bay and marina and boats, due to the tp of the bridge being railed by a solid wall instead of metal posts/etc. to NOT affect the view! Am I the only one who doesn’t like this??? Lemme know!