Wednesday, April 15, 2015

From Motel to Mall

From Dave Brigham:

After a few days hanging out in garish Panama City Beach (see March 17, 2015, "Take Me Down to Panama City"), I was ready for something a little more down to Earth. In pamphlets about things to do in the area, I saw mention of "historic St. Andrew's" in Panama City, which is a separate town from the beach community that has been in the news lately for some awful goings-on during spring break. We ate lunch at a great place in the St. Andrew's neighborhood called the Shrimp Boat and then drove around a bit before heading back to our hotel.

I took note of lots of places I wanted to take pictures of, and made a plan to return early the next morning. The one building of interest to Backside of America readers is the old Cabana Motel.

On this web site you can see what the motel looked like when it opened in 1960. The facility closed many years ago, but in 2008 there was a plan to develop the site into the Cabana Hotel, which would have transformed the motel into a sleek, chrome-trimmed destination (scroll down on the above web site). I'm assuming that the economic downturn put the kibosh on that plan.

Here's what the Cabana looks like now:

When I saw its condition and the sign advertising the Cabana Courtyard Mall, I thought, "There goes another cool old motel." But I was wrong. The owner of the Shrimp Boat is saving part of the old motel as part of a plan to convert the building to retail shops.

Here's a local news report (sorry, the embed feature on this didn't work).

I hope the redevelopment works out for this cool little section of Panama City, which also features some funky shops and restaurants, a strip club (Tan Fannies) and a museum dedicated to the area's publishing history.

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