Dec. 10--PANAMA CITY -- Stopping just short of building homes themselves, Panama City is taking steps to address the burgeoning housing crisis at their regular meeting Tuesday.
The commission will be considering a proposal to buy 27 vacant lots in Millville, with plans to hire a developer to build affordable homes on them within the next year. The lots would cost $250,000, which the city would pay for using their allotment from the Florida State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) program.
"This is what SHIP funding is for," said Mayor Greg Brudnicki. "The guy who owns the property can't do it. We want to expedite the process."
The lots are off of Horizon Lane and Horizon Drive, and were part of a planned development that began in 2008 but never materialized and was ultimately foreclosed on. Before the plan fell apart, the key infrastructure -- water, sewer and electricity -- was installed, making the pads ready to go.
"We have three developers who want to get in there and build some affordable housing," Brudnicki said.
Within six to eight months, the city hopes to have developers working to build homes for between $70 and $90 a square foot.
"We know this area needs it," Brudnicki said.
Also at the meeting, the city will consider temporarily closing 13th Street from Magnolia to Wilson Avenue through July 1, 2019 at the request of Bay District Schools.
To make the Bay High campus usable again, a reconfiguration is taking place that will require both sides of the street to be used.
"In order that Bay High Students can return to the Bay High campus in January 2019, 46 temporary classrooms will be placed at 213 East 13th Street. A temporary cafeteria and temporary parking will be moved to the parking lots adjacent to Tommy Oliver Stadium," the agenda request item reads. "This raises a great safety concern for the students, staff and motorists."
This is not the first time school officials have raised concerns about 13th Street. In 2016, the schools unsuccessfully lobbied the city to close the road, saying it was a safety hazard. The commission shot the proposal down in a 4-1 vote, due to outcry from residents.
Staff has recommended both agenda items for approval.
The meeting will be at 8 a.m. at the County Government Center, 840 W 11th St.
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