Panama City commissioners approved downtown social district expansion

 PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – Panama City commissioners approved expanding the downtown social district’s geographical boundaries and amended its open container policies. The social district, passed in November, now reaches Beach Drive. Visitors and residents can sip and stroll in designated areas downtown from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. 7 days a week instead of […] [[{“value”:”

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – Panama City commissioners approved expanding the downtown social district’s geographical boundaries and amended its open container policies.

The social district, passed in November, now reaches Beach Drive. Visitors and residents can sip and stroll in designated areas downtown from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. 7 days a week instead of just Fridays and Saturdays and enjoy what the city has to offer.


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“We’ve had some other businesses request to be a part of [the social district] that are also downtown. It was just natural to expand the boundaries so that we can include those businesses,” Panama City Downtown Improvement Board Executive Director Maria Williams said.

However, some Panama City residents fear the drinking hours will promote alcoholism and misconduct downtown.

“Even without the drinking, the horrific language that some people use on the streets, I don’t want my grandchildren to know that.”

Panama City Mayor Mike Rohan believes the changes will ruin downtown’s family-friendly atmosphere.

“The bad will certainly outweigh the good. There’s no question about that. The bad is going to be bad. We’re not a family-oriented place anymore if we do this,” Rohan said.

But Downtown Improvement Board Executive Director Maria Williams said participants’ conduct hasn’t been an issue so far.

“I know the police chief was concerned when we started it. He had some concerns about it, but none of them have come to fruition,” Williams said.


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Williams said the expansion will also continue to boost the local economy.

“Several of our downtown merchants who track that sort of thing have come back and shared with us that it has definitely improved their foot traffic through their businesses,” Williams said.

Patrons can only carry drinks in special cups bought at participating downtown businesses. The social district’s new geographical boundaries and schedule went into effect Tuesday.

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