Panera Bread won’t be opening a second location in Palm Coast, but that’s not the city’s fault, Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon said Tuesday at a workshop for the Palm Coast City Council.
“That was a difficult project (that) had a lot of problems,” Landon said, referring to the construction of Panera Bread’s first location on State Road 100. “They had a very dysfunctional design team.”
Josh Jeppesen, a project manager for Schmid Construction, the company that headed the restaurant’s vertical construction, said building in Palm Coast was complicated and lengthy. Contractors and developers in the area have criticized the city, calling it unfriendly to businesses and growth.
But Landon said he believes the only reason the Panera Bread project ever finished was because the city made special allowances for the company. One of those allowances was allowing concurrent review of site plans for the restaurant in effort to expedite the permitting process — but Panera Bread submitted two different designs for review, Landon said.
So when construction began, problems arose because contractors were working from two plans. The problem, Landon said, was of faulty design.
Other issues that arose, Landon said, were that a contractor on site was caught doing work he was not licensed to do, among other complications.
The city will always ensure that building codes are upheld and proper permits are obtained for all work, Landon said, even if that’s considered “business unfriendly.” “Any time in the regulatory arena, there are going to be conflicts,” Landon said. “It’s the nature of the beast when you have a regulatory agency telling someone what they need to do.”
Still, Landon agreed that there are problems within the city’s development process that need to be addressed. His solution is the same as the one many critics of the city offer: improving communication between all parties involved on a project.
He also suggested bringing in an outside consultant that could assess the city’s developing processes independently and suggest areas for improvement.
“I think it’s time that we take a look at our whole process — not from a builder’s standpoint or from a developer’s standpoint, but from the private sector or business sector,” Landon said, ”so we can see if there’s something we can do better.”
— Search for “Order Canceled” on www.PalmCoastObserver.com to read the story from Saturday, Jan. 5.
Email Megan Hoye at [email protected].