When the St. Joe paper mill closed in '99 it caused economic hardship for many in the area. The city now has a bright future thanks to a recent deal.
For more than 80 years the paper mill that used to sit on this land, provided hundreds of jobs and a thriving economy for Port St. Joe. Today it's vacant, no mill. The nearby port, abandoned, but that's about to change.
Lee Vincent, Port St. Joe City Manager, says, "This is just the key element to bring Port St. Joe back to an active city."
This week Port St. Joe city commissioners approved new zoning for the mill property. It clears the way for a new commercial and residential development on 166 acres of the old mill land.
The plans include 600 residential units, retail shops, office space and an entertainment district. The city is hoping the project will revitalize this water front property.
The developer, St. Joe Company, says this project will be a unique opportunity.
John Hendry, St. Joe Company VP, says, "It can grow internally instead of growing in a sprawl type manner. We've got a chance here to bring a tremendous amount of activity to the center of town.”
And create over 2,000 permanent jobs in a city that has struggled since the paper mill closed in '99. City officials have already initiated discussions to reopen the port to shipping.
"If you look at the recent hurricanes that affected Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi, the port of New Orleans was not able to operate for a while. This would be a good back."
The site of the old paper mill will not only be a place to work, but also a place to play.
"We're looking forward to seeing real buildings and real people coming to that water front probably for the first time."
The project is expected to begin in the summer of 2006.