St. Joe planning Mexico Beach 'Village' bringing hundreds of new homes, shops
Those in Mexico Beach are still working hard to recover. You can see less debris on the streets every week. The city's only grocery store is heavily damaged, and, as we know, most homes and businesses faced the same reality.
However, developer St Joe. Company has big plans for the small city.
Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey said affordable living was an issue before Hurricane Michael.
"For example, all of our city workers except for two live out of town. There's no where to live here," he said. The storm knocked much of what was available into the gulf.
St. Joe Company owns several hundred acres of land on the north side of Highway 98 near the boat ramp as you enter the city. The company now plans to build a living community with roughly 400 total apartments, villas, townhomes, and shops "similar to what was existing in Mexico Beach prior to Hurricane Michael," Bridget Precise, St. Joe Company's vice president of development, said. They will also give business owners a building to operate out of.
"It's our hope that we can provide places that some of those businesses would want to move into," Precise said.
Local homeowner Tom Terfinko and Caribbean Coffee shop owner David Kaiser don't exactly have opinions on the new development. "It's really too early to tell," Terfinko said.
However, they know Mexico Beach needs to keep moving forward.
"This lovely town can't continue to exist in a bubble," Terfinko said. "Mexico Beach needs a good kick in the pants and they have enough money to do it," Kaiser said.
The two said as long as St. Joe doesn't change the small town, mom and pop business feel, they don't have a problem with the development.
"They have to follow the same LDR guidelines [Land Development Regulations] as anyone else," Cathey said.
St. Joe company told News 13 the buildings won't be higher than two or three stories and they will follow all of the city's guidelines. They are in just the beginning stages of the project and will be looking for input from locals as they plan. Precise said we could see boots on the ground and the village being built in as little as six months to a year.