St. Joe Company held an open house Thursday at the Panama City Center for the Arts, at which the public was invited to view renderings of the $20 million, 120-room bay front project.

PANAMA CITY — One development company is making good on its commitment to bringing a hotel and restaurant to the Panama City marina.


St. Joe Company held an open house Thursday at the Panama City Center for the Arts, at which the public was invited to view renderings of the $20 million, 120-room bay front project.


Feedback from the public this far has been "mostly positive feedback," according to St. Joe CEO and President Jorge Gonzalez.


"We've been happy with the turnout that we get at our open houses," he said.


There has been "mostly positive feedback," he added moments later. "A lot of folks have very specific ideas about how to design and certain things and how it would interface with the marina, the public domain."


For downtown business owner Gilbert Hamati, adding the bustle will only improve traffic for his restaurant, Trigo.


"I love the idea; the more the merrier," Hamati said. "I have not problem with it at all. We need to get more businesses to boost downtown."


St. Joe is planning to break ground sometime next year. In the drawings, the hotel has a three-face waterfront view, two sides lined with a public promenade. The restaurant will have outside dining and a tiki bar. There will also be an area for paddle board launching and an amphitheater and lawn for multi-use events.


The company will not seek any funds from the city or tax payers for the development or construction of the hotel and restaurant.


St. Joe had actually presented the idea to the city prior to the storm hitting in October. As the company has already broken ground in Bay and Walton counties on 26 projects this year, with about the same number in mind next year, CEO and President Gonzalez said downtown Panama City is a prime area for investment.


"We think it's important for the community," he said. "Every community needs a healthy, vibrant downtown. The downtown in Panama City has so much potential that we hope that our investment in the hotel and restaurant can be a catalyst for the rest of the downtown."