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PORT ST. JOE, FL-The Port St. Joe Port Authority has signed a 41-year lease with the Jacksonville-based St. Joe Co. for use of a 63-acre site on St. Joseph Bay. The local port has been closed for a decade and has now passed the first step in a process of revitalization and development, Tommy Pitts, port director, tells GlobeSt.com. The value of the lease was not disclosed.

“We’re planning to improve the site with dredging for ship access,” Pitts says of the project, which will be a multi-year effort. “We will begin engineering and permitting promptly to move ahead as quickly as possible to develop the site.” In addition to its larger transaction, the Port Authority has signed a three-year lease for a 20-acre site with a 1,000-foot bulkhead that’s already in place so that it may begin shipping operations at the future hub immediately.

The revitalized port will be located on the leased land along with a 68-acre site owned by the port authority, which is separated by US 98. “We’ve been working hard for the past decade to re-establish Port St. Joe as an active deepwater seaport and bring jobs and economic development to Gulf County,” said Pitts in a release. “It’s been a long and sometimes difficult journey, but we’ve had the strong support of the community. Now we’re ready to hit the ground running to make this a viable economic engine for our region.”

The Port St. Joe Port Authority says it has already almost solidified a deal with Gulf Cargo Facilities of Port St. Joe LLC to move one million tons of its road and concrete building materials through the port annually. The company would begin using the port early next year.

“These lease agreements afford us the rare opportunity of very positively impacting the economy of not only our community, but of the region and even the State of Florida,” said Port Authority chairman Allen Cox in a statement. “The revitalization of the last undeveloped seaport in Florida is a task we are anxious to undertake.”

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