The Towne of Seahaven Information – pictures and video of the inside

by October 13, 2007 • 10 comments

On Thursday I was able to get into Origin, the first building in The Towne of Seahaven. I had planned on getting in there a week prior, but due to the fact that they were trying to finish up the elevator inspections, the building was closed. The elevators passed their inspections and that part of the CO (certificate of occupancy) is done.

This was not the first time I had been in the building and like every other time, I was impressed. This was the first time, however, that I had been with most of the condos finished and the amenity deck on the fourth floor completed and cleaned. I can say that for those that have closed and for those that will close soon, the pool is done, looking beautiful and ready to use.

What makes The Towne of Seahaven so special is the fact that it is not just another condo on the beach. Seahaven will be a full scale resort with a fully operational village inspired by the Village of Baytowne Wharf and other Intrawest-designed villages across the country. Villages are so desired because it creates a place for people to gather and shop, walk, dine, talk, have fun, whatever. The old saying “if you build it, they will come” is so true with a village destination because it creates a community feel that causes people to gravitate towards it. Those of you that are familiar with Sandestin know how incredibly successful it has been and how the village draws a crowd almost every weekend.

The entry-way was complete with brick pavers and the lobby/entryway area was complete and finished off quite nicely might I add. The fit and finish feels nice, not cheap like so many of the condos on the beach. It was evident right away that much attention to detail was taken. One little thing that I thought was cool was the elevator interior finish. I haven’t been in tons of elevators in our area, but none of the ones that I have been in looked like this. They didn’t make you feel like you were encased in a steel box, they were finished with a dark red wood, Tommy Bahama style. Another thing that caught my attention is the bronze colored front door light covers with the Origin logo cut into it. This may not seem like much to many of you, but front door light covers are very easy to go cheap on and the developer chose to use a custom cover design to add to the detail-specific fit and finish. In addition, the condo number plates below the light cover is a custom design as well, employing the cool tribal pattern look present in all the marketing materials since the beginning. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just take a look at one of the old email newsletters that they sent and check out the background pattern, or take another look at your purchase guide you got two years ago.

One thing that the appraisers can’t take into consideration when doing their appraisals is the fact that every condo (yes, even the studios) comes completely furnish and rental ready. This means couches, tables, sheets, dishes, silverware, everything. The buyers have to buy nothing to get their condo ready for the rental program or whatever they intend to use it for. One more value that many overlook is the fact that everything is already in the condo. Not only do you not have to purchase furniture, but you don’t have to move it in either. You don’t have to put the dishes away, make all the beds for the first time, arrange everything, etc. You spend a weekend moving $25k worth of furniture up stairs/elevator and tell me how fun it is. It’s great you don’t have to do it here.

As Neel Bennett was showing me around, I saw many opportunities that he could have taken to save a few bucks and increase his profit. For instance, the redwood mahogany doors (forgive me if I don’t have this exactly correct) cost around $800 a piece, and the huge trusses on the front top of the building (that help give the outside of the building awesome definition and differentiation) cost more than $700,000 each. There are a couple of other buildings on Panama City Beach that have exterior treatments to set them apart, but non as elaborate as Origin. There are a lot of things that you can’t put a specific value on, but it is these things that make Origin/Seahaven a differentiated product that will invite people away from the competition and into it’s lobby doors.

I know that this post seems like I am developer/Seahaven biased, and I guess I am. Our family is purchasing in Origin and we are excited. We’ve always been excited. My father is so cool and level-headed. When asked about the market and his feelings toward it in relation with his current real estate purchases, I quote “Jason, the market goes up and down all the time in the short-term, but if you look at a 10 to 15 year trend, it almost always goes up.” The longer term the investment, the lower the risk. What did he do September 12th when everyone was selling their stocks? He didn’t sell a thing and waited it out, and guess what? He got it all back. Sure it is going to take longer than expected to build Seahaven and the village, but how could anyone expect Panama City Beach to be exempt from the same real estate troubles the rest of the country is going through right now.

The DRI (development of regional impact, required of all developments over 999 total units) was completed in June. The cost including all planning, permitting, fees, etc. was in excess of $1 million. The DRI process can take anywhere from 12 to 36 months and is subject to state and local government participation in the approval process and often requires droves of attorneys (and we all know anything that involves attorneys, 36 months can go quickly). The village could not be started until the DRI was done.

Neel stressed that they are taking the crossing of Front Beach Road very seriously. There is a cross walk with a structured, concrete-curb median that will be landscaped when complete. This truly does create a pedestrian presence that actually influences the cars driving through to slow down and stop for pedestrian crossing. Both times we crossed the street, cars stopped for us without us hardly waiting. In addition, they just refinished the section of Front Beach Road that passes through Seahaven, making three lanes with the center being a universal turn lane and they are installing flashing lights and pedestrian crossing signs to slow the traffic down further.

Below I’ve included pictures and a quick video that I made to help show you around. My video making skills have gotten better, but they’re still not great. Also, Seahaven did not pay, nor give me any other incentive to write any of this. This is all my honest opinion. I am a very big proponent to positive information, although I do not intentionally fluff information.

Alternate media types: Windows Media Player, 512k

The Towne of Seahaven - Covered Porte-Cochere Towne of Seahaven - Main Lobby Towne of Seahaven - Pool
The Towne of Seahaven - pool The Towne of Seahaven - front door light cover The Towne of Seahaven - cabinets
The Towne of Seahaven - couch The Towne of Seahaven - elevator The Towne of Seahaven - bed
The Towne of Seahaven - view from floor 15 deck The Towne of Seahaven - view from floor 15 deck The Towne of Seahaven - main lobby
The Towne of Seahaven - model, main street The Towne of Seahaven - model The Towne of Seahaven - model
The Towne of Seahaven - model
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1 Jeff Price October 15, 2007 at 11:10 pm

Jason, my wife and I visited last week and we were also impressed with the detail in the nearly-finished product, although we are still very leary of the depressed market in Panama City and the abundance of existing condos. Have you been able to do any research on the plans that Intrawest has for renting out these units to generate rental income for us future owners??? We are concerned about the possibility of low rental interest until the beach club is built – any input??? Thanks!!!


2 D Hildenbrandt October 16, 2007 at 8:10 am

Thanks for the presentation.


3 Chris Plyers October 16, 2007 at 10:10 am

Jason, you are absolutely right in the fact that Seahaven is an excellent addition to PCB and has the “potential” to be one of the best resorts in the panhandle. But, as you said, your story was a little over the top and amounted to a PR release for the developer. You didn’t mention any of the many pitfalls facing this development that include the project timeline, motels across the street and the Spring Break issue; all of which will effect rental rates for owners.

You also say you weren’t paid for your story, correct? I must ask one question… Isn’t Hammerhead Fred’s restaurant owned by the Bennett’s (Seahaven developer) and didn’t they just begin advertising on your “real-estate” based website? Hmmmm… interesting.


4 Jack October 26, 2007 at 7:39 pm

Thanks for the preview. It appears from the article and video that its rental ready but fact is that investors have to buy an exhaustive list of items for it to be rental ready and there is a very high cost for upkeep.


5 Jack October 26, 2007 at 8:05 pm

Thanks for the preview. It appears from the article and video that condos are rental ready but fact is that investors have to buy an exhaustive list of items for it to be rental ready and there is a very high cost for upkeep. Furthermore, the the future projects are significantly delayed, which is good for develoiper but ver bad for investors.


6 Chuck October 30, 2007 at 7:10 pm

Ridiculous ad for the development.


7 Jason October 31, 2007 at 12:12 am

Thanks Chuck!


8 Chris Plyers November 1, 2007 at 2:40 pm


You never answered the question…did you receive advertising as “compensation” or a “thank you (wink, wink) for your article on Seahaven?

Kinda hard to deny the timing of the Bennett’s placing an ad for Hammerhead Fred’s immediately after you run 2 glowing articles on their development. Your readers should know the truth about where your loyalties lie.


9 Jason November 1, 2007 at 8:54 pm

Chris, my loyalties lie with pcbdaily. The great thing about running my own show is I can pretty much do what I want. I like Seahaven so I said nice things about it. It is my opinion and I am entitled to it, as are you entitled to your opinion. The answer to your question is simple. The previous advertiser’s position had expired. It was another local development, so I thought Seahaven would be a good fit. I asked and they accepted. That’s all there was to it. There had been no discussion of me doing a post about Seahaven or speaking with a particular tone, just simply a business deal. The timing couldn’t have been better if I had planned it. Thanks for your comment Chris, and thanks for reading!


10 Ann Hill December 22, 2007 at 6:14 am

The “Towne” of Seahaven is absolutely the most rediculous, out of place project along Front Beach Road. This is not Destin, it is Panama City Beach.
Our trademark here is quaint, small, local, priced and geared for the average working person who enjoys the beach…This is not only an out of placed project,poorly planned, it is another example of local politics and local developers forcing there way into the development arena because of “who they are and the power they hold” with deep pockets and Intrawest make believe marketing tactics. Jason’s testimonial is so biased he had to write “Neel did not pay me to say this!”