ONE Port St. Joe Solving Problems Through Urban Design

Vision Statement

Port St Joe is currently facing disparities worsened by Hurricane Michael, that has left the city with both emotional and physical scars. Our vision for Port St. Joe is to see the city reconnected as one by creating a civic corner, with stormwater improvements, pedestrian and bicyclist centered walkways, connecting North Port St. Joe to downtown and to the marina. We believe connection will improve congruent traffic and activity creating unity increasing community resiliency.

Goals and Objectives

  1. Connectivity
  2. Development
  3. Stormwater Management
Port St. Joe Paper Mill 1955-Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Florida State Archives

Context Of Port St. Joe

  • Port Saint Joe was founded in 1835 along the "forgotten coast"
  • Industry town- paper mill, closed in 1999 and resulted in 20% unemployed
  • Division between North and South Port St. Joe since Jim Crow
  • North Port St. Joe not as damaged
  • Switching to a tourist economy to increase bed tax- caused controversy as it changes the "character" of the town
  • Concern about rising rent prices
Town of Port St. Joe 1960 -Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Florida State Archives

Community Input

Developing plans for connectivity requires a connection to the people who make it possible. We spent much of our week in Port St. Joe understanding what underlying issues have prevented progress in certain areas, which ideas have the most potential for development and what expectations exist within the Port St. Joe community.

Our week in Port St Joe

Community Interviews

Community Narratives

The basis of our proposal is connectivity through urban design. However, issues with racism and segregation have divided the North and South sides of Port St. Joe over certain propositions mentally and emotionally. Hurricane Michael only exacerbated these issues. Residents and officials representing North side see Hurricane Michael as an opportunity to unite both communities while also hoping their voices will be heard.

Existing Conditions

In the week we spend in Port St Joe, we we're able to come up with a strategy, we interviewed community members, we spoke to stakeholders, we reviewed plans, and got a feel for the city. The following weeks we analyzed our data and reviewed our plans and formulated our solutions to the problems we observed.

View of Port St Joe

Natural Hazard Challenges

Proximity to coastline makes most parts of Port St. Joe vulnerable to flooding and wind damage.

Surging Seas Risk Finder Interactive Tool
Projected Sea Level from Surging Seas Interactive tool
Social Vulnerability
100 year flood map
Wind induced damage to residential structure damage in North Port St. Joe (left); Storm surge damage to residential structure built on grade (right) (Picture from FEMA MAT)

Our Proposal

We are proposing connectivity through urban design. The idea of relocating the City Hall to a central location, Civic Site, to bridge the gap between North and South Port St Joe.

Using the Civic Site as a starting point we will reconnect north and south, east and west. And use the design as foundation for form base codes.

Overall Connectivity Plan
Proposed street cross section, David Langston Dr., MLK Blvd. and Williams Ave
Proposed street cross section of David Langston Dr., MLK Blvd. and William Ave
Example of proposed cross section design of the connecting streets
Addition of Bioswale as a stormwater retention opportunity

Uniting Hearts and Minds: ONE Port St. Joe

While the goal is to connect both sides of Port St. Joe and mitigate flood damage through urban design, an effective communications strategy is crucial to getting the community on board. Campaigns and marketing that focus on uniting Port St. Joe as a community (e.g., a ONE Port St. Joe campaign) would take place to facilitate the process and open lines of communication.


  • Buildings, designs, maps and ideas are just the beginning​
  • History in the town and a sense of community​
  • Change is inevitable, but it starts with the people​
  • Wayfinding and branding​
  • Cities as a point of connection- Port St. Joe feels like a divided city

Next Steps

The next steps of our proposal is to continue research; to create public engagement meetings; create feasibility studies; start and present policy changes; contact business owners


  • Hyunji Yoon – College of Journalism and Communications
  • Neisha Pierre – College of Design, Construction and Planning
  • Oscar Lafontaine – Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering
  • Rama Hiba – College of Design, Construction and Planning


  • US National Resources Planning Board. (1937). Our Cities: Their Role in the National Economy. Washington DC.: Government Printing Office.
  • Allen, G. (2019, October 10). Recovery Is Slow In The Florida Panhandle A Year After Hurricane Michael. NPR, pp. 3-5.
  • Contorno, S. (2019, October 9). The Two Florida Republicans Who Voted Against Hurricane Michael Disaster Aid Explain Why. Tampa Bay Times, pp. 1-5.
  • News Herald Staff. (2019, December 28). Year End: Hurricane Michael Recovery Still a Struggle. Panama City News Herald, pp. 3-4.
  • Schneider, M. (2019, October 9). A Year After Hurricane Michael, Panama City and Other Florida Communities Still Struggling. Associated Press, pp. 2-4.
  • Climate Central. Surging Seas Risk Finder.
  • Croft, T. (2019). PSJ Seeks Infrastructure Funding. The Port St. Joe Star.
  • Kopp, R. E., DeConto, R. M., Bader, D. A., Hay, C. C., Horton, R. M., Kulp, S., Oppenheimer, M., Pollard, D., & Strauss, B. H. (2017). Evolving understanding of Antarctic ice‐sheet physics and ambiguity in probabilistic sea‐level projections. Earth's Future, 5(12), 1217-1233.
  • Kopp, R. E., Horton, R. M., Little, C. M., Mitrovica, J. X., Oppenheimer, M., Rasmussen, D. J., Strauss, B. H., & Tebaldi, C. (2014). Probabilistic 21st and 22nd century sea‐level projections at a global network of tide‐gauge sites. Earth's future, 2(8), 383-406.
  • Miller, C. S., Kopp, G. A., Morrison, M. J., Kemp, G., & Drought, N. (2017). A Multichamber, Pressure-Based Test Method to Determine Wind Loads on Air-Permeable, Multilayer Cladding Systems. Frontiers in Built Environment, 3, 7.
  • Prevatt, D. O. (2003). Wind load design and performance testing of exterior walls: Current standards and future considerations. In Performance of exterior building walls. ASTM International.
  • Apalachicola Region Resources On the Web. (2005, October 22). Almanac. (F. S. Archives, Editor) Retrieved from ARROW: www.fnai.org/ARROW/almanac/history/history_Gulf_photos.cfm

Interested in Learning More?

Follow this link to our report:

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Created with images by Jacob - "Port St Joe is a small Town in the Florida Panhandle" • ronrudolph - "Cape San Bias lighthouse" • Patrick Perkins - "From a naming brainstorm at a talk" • Sam McGhee - "A snap shot of our Sony FS7 cinema camera system from our film set, while producing a documentary series for the Holocaust Center for Humanities. Here we are interviewing a local high school about their experience with some of the Center’s teaching materials." • Stephanie - "Just after sunset at Port St. Joe" • beeboys - "ステップアップ"