Thomas Drive Mystery Solved!

by May 18, 2009 • 6 comments

img_7754If you’ve been curious about the huge new development on Thomas drive south of Magnolia and Winn Dixie, we’ve got you covered. But first, some back-story;

Over the last year, if you taken a drive down North Thomas Drive you’ve no doubt noticed major new developments beginning at the turn off Hathaway Bridge down to Grand Lagoon Bridge. You’ve seen more restaurants, banks, grocery stores and retail shopping centers added to the area community. Those updates may be but appetizers to a main-developmental-course. Stimulus money in the sum of $18.5 million and a combination of state and local funds, will be used to expand Grand Lagoon Bridge. The bridge will expand from 150ft to 250ft widening it from two lanes to four and increasing the height over water from 10 to 18ft.

For the last 18 months, planning has been taking place on the bridge expansion, but no funds had been earmarked leaving no definitive timeline for construction.  However, with funding tentatively secured, we should begin to see some timelines released.  The heightening will be a huge improvement as the current height has been historically limiting to the type and size of boat that property owners on the east side of Grand Lagoon could own.

Stimulus funds will also widen the adjacent North Lagoon feed into Thomas drive into a five-lane highway with room for bike-lanes and sidewalks down to Bristol Street. The area near Grand Lagoon has always been popular with locals, but the planned Grand Lagoon expansion may be an even greater pull for the tourism base as well, which brings us back to the original mystery.

That area being mowed down near Magnolia Beach Road and Winn Dixie is making room for a new restaurant. Another restaurant, whoop dee doo, right? Well, the type of restaurant and the space being allotted for it may surprise you. The huge area is making way for Jasmine Thai Restaurant. This isn’t big news until you consider that a Thai restaurant, somewhat unconventional for Panama City Beach, decided to purchase a long-sitting commercial lot to compete with the likes of Captain Anderson’s and the Treasure Ship. Not only will it compete, but from the looks of it, it has high expectations as three-fifths of the land is being flattened strictly for parking.

Future developments may become a trend if tourist traffic to that area is increased due to the Grand Lagoon Bridge expansion and proof of the location’s economic lure. With the addition of The Saki House II, Hooters, Donut Island and Bruster’s Ice Cream just north, what may have been a jewel area for locals could turn out to be Panama City Beach’s most eclectic and busiest dining experience for tourists.  With the revival of the “West-End,” we may see a huge shot in the arm of Panama City Beach’s “East-End.”

Bay County Planning Department did not have a projected completion date or a total square footage but did acknowledged that the restaurant needed a variance for the parking and based on design the restaurant itself will be 50% kitchen and 50% seating, an unusual ratio for the type of establishment.

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1 Hunter Palmer May 18, 2009 at 10:14 am

Thanks for the info. Interesting they are willing to build on such a big scale. Hopefully they know something we don’t. What’s this about widening N. Lagoon to five lanes? Did I hear that right?

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2 Cebo Campbell May 18, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Hey Hunter,
It’s not quite all of Thomas they plan to widen, only that intersection from N. Lagoon to Bristol Street. It’s all good, but what may not be so good is when the lanes reach the turn and all the lanes merge into two. I might have to buy a “Be Nice…I’m Local” bumper sticker from Jason.

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3 karen smith May 19, 2009 at 6:44 am

Great news I am still excited about the prospect of Dunkin donuts for the coffee. A lot is happening on the east end and I enjoy visiting but I think I love living on the west end where it is quiet and peaceful.
Thanks as usual for keeping us in the know.

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4 Ken Karr May 19, 2009 at 7:00 am

Check out the Freinds of the Grand Lagoon organization that has helped raise and widen the Thomas Drive Bridge and is helping to bring back the Grand Lagoon to a healthy body of water for all to use and enjoy.

http://friendsofgrandlagoon.com/

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5 Isaac Eiland-Hall May 19, 2009 at 7:17 am

I lost track of this website, but I’m making sure to save a link — this is exactly the type of news I’m very interested in! Fantastic stuff 🙂

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6 Lee Howe May 19, 2009 at 9:30 am

Thai food is one of my top three favorites. This is great news!!

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