PORT ST JOE, Fla. (WMBB) — As soon as WestRock officials announced they were closing the local paper mill, the guessing game began as to who would wind up owning the mill property.

The 350 acres are zoned as heavy industrial. Port Panama City has already acquired a total of 60 acres. Bay County officials have expressed interest in buying some, if not all, of the rest of the property.

But, Eastern Shipbuilding group is also a possible buyer. Eastern Nelson Shipyard facility is right next door and had already been leasing the mill’s pier for the last decade.

“I really do feel like that they are also looking to do what’s best for the community as well,” Port St. Joe Eastern Shipbuilding President Joey D’Isernia said. “That’s an important thing because there are a lot of stakeholders here, Eastern being one of them, that has really good plans for that area to continue producing jobs and also having an economy that aligns with our overall goals.”

D’Isernia said because WestRock is a publicly traded company, they have requirements for advertising the sale of the property.

He said the paper company knows the Eastern Shipbuilding Group is interested in buying at least some of the mill property.