Last year, the William J. “Billy Joe” Rish Memorial Parking Lot was dedicated by the city of Port St. Joe and the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency and last Thursday saw construction completed and sealant applied on a new deck for the premises.


Last year, the William J. “Billy Joe” Rish Memorial Parking Lot was dedicated by the city of Port St. Joe and the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency and last Thursday saw construction completed and sealant applied on a new deck for the premises.



Gail Alsobrook, executive director of the PSJRA sees the parking lot as a gateway to Port St. Joe’s downtown shopping area and plans to install signage on the deck to advertise local merchants.



“Over 12,000 road trips go by here each day,” said Alsobrook. “It’s all about helping businesses. (The parking lot) is large enough that people driving by will see it and know they need to stop and shop.”



The parking lot is located at the southeast corner of US Highway 98 and Fourth Street, where the offices of Rish, Gibson stood for over 40 years.



Renovation of the parking lot took approximately two and a half years to complete and is only the first phase of redevelopment for the surrounding area.



Alsobrook detailed plans to construct several aesthetically-pleasing buildings on the block in order to station local businesses on Highway 98.



“People don’t want to see a dirt parking lot, they want to see beautiful buildings” said Alsobrook. “It’s fun for the community.”



Alsobrook, along with several volunteers, covered the deck with sealant to add water protection to the wood, and she plans on hiring a designer to add decorations in the near future.



The deck covers a stormwater pond and will serve as a gateway into the shopping district.



Owner of The Port Liquor Store Boyd Pickett assisted with applying the sealant.



“I’m glad to see it come to fruition,” he said. “It helps the aesthetics of the community and brings in business.



“This whole corridor looks so much better.”



Pickett plans to relocate his store into one of the new buildings along Highway 98 once they are erected.



The land for the parking lot was purchased from the Rish estate by the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency and subsequently deeded to the City of Port St. Joe. The construction of the parking lot was funded through a grant from a USDA Rural Business and the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency.