Another year of investing in the city of Port St. Joe.
The Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency (PSJRA) released its annual report this month, outlining the leverage the agency has brought to its funding and how that leverage has benefited the community.
The PSJRA operates with what is known as Tax Increment Funding, the agency receiving a percentage of any increase in property values within the agency’s district.
That district has grown since the boundaries were first drawn in 1989. Expanded to include all of the neighborhood of North Port St. Joe 20 years later, the PSJRA district now encompasses 452 acres with 731 parcels, up from 115 acres and 142 parcels when initially formed.
Since 2006, the PSJRA has leveraged its TIF to attract more than $1.125 million into the agency’s district, a return on TIF funds of roughly 53 percent.
In fiscal year 2012 alone, the TIF funding to the agency was $249,231 from the city of Port St. Joe and the Board of County Commissioners; the agency received some $215,000 in grant awards.
That has meant $959,940 invested into businesses through the Façade Improvement Grant program, planning and visioning efforts, expansion of the PSJRA boundaries, landscape and shading downtown and banners and branding.
The agency has also invested approximately $1.45 million in infrastructure, from Billy Joe Rish Memorial Parking Lot, David B. Langston Drive, Jetty Park, lighting and landscaping along U.S. 98 and Reid Avenue, Miss Zola’s Drive and the Dr. Joe Memorial Parking Lot and Park, among other initiatives.
In the coming year alone, the PSJRA will undertake a new banner series using a BP grant; will fund new sidewalks and stormwater improvements along Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. between Avenues A-D, will employ a series of grants to create a new BayPark Master Plan and complete the landscaping of U.S. 98.
“We are happy to serve out community,” said PSJRA director Gail Alsobrook. “We intend to continue to work diligently for the citizens and the business community.”
The board of directors for the previous year was Patrick Jones, Willie Ramsey, Bill Reid, Jeff Anderson, Aaron Farnsley, Linda Gant, Boyd Pickett, Bo Spring and Marie Todd. Provisional directors were Clarence Monette, Johnny Jenkins and Michael McKenzie.
Other community projects undertaken by the PSJRA in recent years include the gazebo in City Commons Park, an alley fence for the business community to shield the working alley and dumpsters from view on U.S. 98, a summer youth program in collaboration with the Gulf Coast Workforce Board, street lights for Miss Zola’s Drive and bicycle racks for the historic downtown.
In the past year, Beach Properties, No Name Café, Pelican Roost, J. Patrick Floyd Law Offices and the Novak Law Group were among businesses taking advantage of the Façade Improvements Grant Program for a total of more than $25,000.
In 2006, small town redevelopment expert Robert Gibbs suggested that Port St. Joe officials should make the business district look like somebody cares.
“Many took that to heart – the PSJRA did – and now it shows,” Alsobrook said.