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Nearly two years in, workforce housing project still facing roadblocks

Nearing two years since the City of Port St. Joe selected OIKOS Development Corporation as the developer for a planned workforce housing project located off of Tenth Street, the project is still tied up in roadblocks.

According to Michael Snodgrass, a representative of OIKOS, who came to Port St. Joe from Kansas City to update city commissioners on the project’s progress on Aug. 1, the project has been held up for more than a year due to ongoing negotiations with Duke Energy over an easement necessary for building a road into the future development.

“We’ve been working on this project now, it seems like, forever,” he said. “The biggest issue… has been the road going into the site. We’ve now had at least four interactions of that same road going into the site, including full engineering, surveying, trying to get Duke Energy to sign off on an easement.”

But Snodgrass felt confident based on recent interactions with Duke that OIKOS’s most recent iteration of the road design would be approved.

“We finally told Duke, basically, ‘what do you want?’ ‘How can we make this work?’,” he said.

The housing project, which will be  located off of Tenth Street behind the Gulf County Public Works complex, intends to address employers’ struggles to fill lower-paying positions by making the cost of housing in Gulf County more attainable. 

It will not be considered low-income housing, but rather, aims to be affordable for young families or those early in their careers who typically exceed the income requirements to qualify for traditional affordable housing subsidies.

The design presented by Snodgrass to the city includes both single-family and townhouse options.

“Once we get Duke to sign off on the easement, there’s no reason we couldn’t move on with the plat, I don’t think,” Snodgrss said.

Going forward, the city will have the opportunity to offer input on the design of the development, which is expected to be discussed at future city meetings.

OIKOS will be looking for funding sources for the project going forward and is hoping to apply for upcoming rounds of state funding.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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