The owners of the Panama City Beach property where the old Treasure Ship once stood are preparing to set sail on a new adventure. But this time, the voyage will be a lot different.
William Nomberg bought the Treasure Island Marina in 1976 and opened the Treasure Ship two years later. For more than thirty years, wave after wave of tourists and locals crowded its decks, restaurants, and bars and it became a Thomas Drive landmark. Fire destroyed the structure in April 2010, but it didn't destroy the memories of a generation.
"It was a very sad day for our family to lose it," said Lisa Nomberg Todd, the developer's daughter. "It's like losing a member of the family." Lisa and her husband Jimmy are the principals of Treasure Island Marina, LLC.
The Todds were in the Bay County Commission chamber Tuesday morning when the board gave preliminary approval to a plan to redevelop the site. That plan won't include reconstruction of the iconic building. "The ship had its own personality and its own identity and I think it would be an injustice to try to recreate [it]," said Ms. Todd.
Commissioners gave the Todds the green light to a wide range of possibilities. "We envision a multi-use something… whether it's a high rise or a restaurant with retail in it," said Ms. Todd.
Final approval of the project will put an end to a property dispute that arose during construction of the new Grand Lagoon Bridge. Both the county and the Todds claimed ownership of a parcel near the bridge.
"They actually had a deed just like we had a deed... they had been paying taxes on it," said Commissioner Mike Thomas. "There were legitimate issues that the family had, but because of it being so important, we had to fight for the rights… to be able to get to [the bridge] and work and create a project that we needed to do."
After months of negotiations, it appears a compromise has been reached. "We've had some issues but we've worked together and I see us working together now to do something to enhance Bay County," said Ms. Todd. "We haven't known how we could redevelop the property until now, so we're pleased that they've given us the go ahead."
"I'm excited about the development opportunities for the public and the private business interests," said Commissioner Guy Tunnell. "Through the agreements that have been struck, we're able to have clear access to the bridge in order to do periodic maintenance… it's good to get us to this point."
The commission will conduct a second public hearing on the development agreement at its August 21 meeting. For now, the Todds have not decided what – or when – to build.