Panama City Mayor Concerned with Independence Village - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Panama City Mayor Concerned with Independence Village

Posted: Updated:

You could say that Mayor Greg Brudnicki got less than what he bargained for. The Panama City mayor is questioning the need and effectiveness of housing initiatives like Independence Village.

"When I first saw the first construction trailer dropped off I said, 'good, well they are going to start the construction' because this first started in June 2011," said Brudnicki.  

The idea was started by Big Bend Community Based Care to accommodate young adults aging out of foster care. Big Bend and Royal American broke ground in September of 2011.

"They didn't even get their C. O., or occupancy, until December 2012," said Brudnicki. "So, it took a year and a half they could have built the Taj Mahal in that time.

"And then it turns out that we have buildings here that are, I mean, they are falling apart!" said Brudnicki.  

As we walked around the apartments several pieces of vinyl siding could be seen hanging off the buildings or already on the ground.  And support boards appeared bowed and buckled.

"So, I just kind of feel duped," said Brudnicki. "Because, we've kind of allowed something to happen here under the premise that it was going to be something that it's not.

"And the thing is it's not sticks, bricks, and mortar and you can see some of the siding is coming off and these things haven't even been here for a month."

Apartments are fully open to the public. In a phone interview, News13 spoke with Jeffrey Sharky, the developer of the project.

Sharky says the apartments were never intended to fill 100% of its occupancy with foster kids, but just 50%.

And that there is a growing need for kids aging out of foster care. As for Mayor Brudnicki, he has grown cautious of similar endeavors.

"So, we want to make sure before we do any more projects that we know exactly what is going to be built," said Brudnicki. "That there is a need, that that need is going to be fulfilled, and that we are not going to be duped again."

Katie Zimpzer from Big Bend Community Care says the independent living project is a necessity for foster kids living in those homes. At present, the apartment complex has nine foster kids on property a resident told us only five of it's 24 units are filled.