Stuart Main Street Activities and Impacts

Outdoor Dining Seating

Outdoor Dining Stuart Main StreetIn 2009 SMS saw the need to expand outside restaurant seating throughout the downtown but particularly on Osceola Street from Second Street to Colorado Avenue which is the main pedestrian street in the historic downtown. The major challenge facing this proposal was the narrow street and sidewalk area that severely limited the ability for restaurants to add any meaningful outdoor dining seats. One idea that SMS began to evaluate was the removal of one or two key parking spaces in front of the restaurants that had expressed a desire to participate. With that goal in mind SMS commissioned a study to look at where those opportunities existed and how much parking would be lost. After a year- long analysis with City CRA staff it was determined that six outdoor dining areas with a loss of eight parking spaces was desired and possible without have a major negative impact on parking. Today that number may increase to eight dining areas.

Colorado Avenue Road Diet

Colorado Avenue is the primary gateway to historic downtown Stuart from U.S. 1. It serves as the primary corridor for commuters driving to numerous work destinations to the east of U.S. 1 including Martin County’s largest employers. As a four-lane road, it was not pedestrian friendly and the heavy vehicular traffic usually moved faster than the posted speed limit. Years prior, the City of Stuart had made two previous unsuccessful attempts at gaining support for making Colorado Avenue more pedestrian-friendly.

Then in 2011 Stuart Main Street (SMS) and two traditional neighborhood advocates, Julie Preast and Ann MacMillan, who were also former SMS board members and retired downtown merchants, took on the task of educating the community and garnering support for the proposed road diet concept which would reduce the road from four to two lanes, add medians with turn lanes and feature public art pieces, include landscaping/cross walks/bike paths from Martin Luther King Boulevard to Confusion Corner, and install pedestrian seating and a roundabout that would also serve as a gateway into the East Stuart neighborhood — all designed to create a pedestrian-friendly street with slower moving traffic that would entice individuals to walk and shop.

On March 23, 2011 the City of Stuart held a well-attended public meeting to discuss the Colorado Avenue design, and citizens expressed their concerns (comments presented by Julie Preast are attached). Julie and Ann visited every available business and property owner along Colorado Avenue to invite them to participate at Dan Burden’s tour and presentation, provide the proposed design and relay their past experience with accomplishing Downtowns revitalization. Dan Burden is considered an international expert in walkability, bikeability, traffic calming and road diets. Julie contacted Dan and he agreed to assist the City of Stuart by conducting an audit/walking-tour of Downtown and present the results.

On April 20, 2011 Dan Burden, founder and former Executive Director of the Walkable and Livable Community Institute, that promotes healthy, connected communities supporting active living, guided a walking tour through Downtown accompanied by members of the public (see attached notes and sign-in sheets). That evening Dan gave his presentation on “Livability and the Role of Transportation” to the public within City Hall. He presented the results of his downtown walking tour, opportunities for improvements and the elements of the road diet design for Colorado Avenue created by Joe Capra of CAPTEC. Dan’s presentation and answers to questions assured the community of the significant benefits derived from a road diet.

On April 25, 2011 Julie Preast appealed to the City of Stuart Community Redevelopment Agency for the use of Community Development Block Grant funding for the Colorado Avenue road diet project (see attached). Colorado Avenue is within the boundaries of the Community Redevelopment Area.

Today, four years after construction was completed, Colorado Avenue is a vibrant, attractive and safe place to drive, walk, shop and work. Business revenue and rental income have increased and occupancy levels are at 95% from the pre-construction 70%. Stuart Main Street is proud to have played a role in the expansion of the downtown Stuart experience with the new, friendlier and much safer Colorado Avenue.

Seminole Street and City Boardwalk Extension

With the goal of adding a new 400’ section of boardwalk between the Riverwalk Stage east to the Colorado Avenue pocket-park along the shores of the St. Lucie River in historic downtown SMS working with the City CRA and City Manager proposed an arrangement that allowed the landowners along Seminole to be included in the parking- exempt area of downtown for their granting riparian rights to the City to build the boardwalk. The Seminole Street area remains an excellent opportunity for continuing redevelopment of the historic downtown.

SMS City Hall Relocation Study

First, thank you all for your support and participation in the City Hall Public Input meetings. Whether you helped develop the input process, participated as a stakeholder, attended or spoke at a meeting, or covered the process in the media, your input is greatly appreciated.

After meeting in January and February, the Stakeholder Representatives – with public input – unanimously agreed to the following criteria for any reuse of the city hall site (In no particular order):

Public access to waterfront
Positive public impact
Economically feasible, sustainable, fiscally responsible
Parking, pedestrian & traffic flow management
City Hall/municipal building in core of downtown
Preserve architectural character and uniqueness of small town
Positive impact on environment
Holistic, comprehensive long-term plan for property in the extended downtown that can be implemented in phases
City retains ownership of existing city-hall property

In addition, in a series of “yes” or “no” votes, the Stakeholder Representatives answered the following three questions:

Should City Hall stay in the current location: yes 4, no 9
If city hall moves, should Osceola Street be extended in some form to help expand the downtown: yes 10, no 3
When and if city hall moves, it should be located in the downtown on either side of the railroad tracks with a minimum of 100’ of public space retained along the river: yes 10, no

 

2016-17 Goals (In addition to continuing already successful projects and initiatives)

  • Relaunch our website and introduce new tools for better communication with our members
  • Pursue new grant and sponsorship opportunities to keep Rock’n Riverwalk a year-round Concert Series
  • Develop corporate sponsorships and fundraising efforts to support organization and its initiatives
  • Complete Historic Art Marker program
  • Creating an inventory of property and businesses in the district and partner with new neighbors to
  • ensure exciting and productive use of Downtown properties

 

Accomplishments 2014-16

  • Completed 4th full year of Mornings on Main Street with many repeat sponsors
  • Played leadership role in look and functionality of Downtown for residents, visitors, and businesses:
    • Reviewed proposed ATM locations for safety, accessibility and visual appeal
    • Reviewed Colorado Avenue Gateway Design
    • Helped develop placement for Centennial Water Bird sculptures on Colorado Avenue
    • Secured riparian rights for Riverwalk Expansion from the Riverwalk Stage to Colorado Avenueand saw project completed
    • Reviewed the Rooftop Dining Ordinance and participated in the City of Stuart Sound OrdinanceReview Committee
    • Worked with the City on the Triangle Property Request for Qualifications leading to the Urban
    • Communities project to add 48 downtown residences
    • Working with the City on Downtown Streetscaping of Osceola Street and Flagler Avenue
    • Working with the City on identifying long-term parking solutions
    • Worked with city to organize public input meetings on future use of the City Hall Site andcontinue to explore redevelopment of City Hall site
  • Partnered with the Downtown Business Association of Stuart and Martin County Office of Tourism and Marketing to support tourism and a positive business climate downtown including:
    • Brought Seminole Street under the Old Downtown Parking District and Alcohol Ordinance to
      encourage new uses on the waterfront side of street
    • With the Downtown Business Association and East Stuart Main Street supported the proposed
      Infrastructure Sales Tax and developed recommendations to the City Commission and Stuart
      CRA for Capital Projects to build property values in the city.
    • Also partnered with DBA to help protect parking for customers and remove obstacles from our
      crowded sidewalks
    • Securing a letter of commitment from FECI and AAF protecting the 144 downtown parking
      spots leased by the City from FECI.
    • Advocating for consistent parking and code enforcement in the downtown area
    • Fostered closer relationship with downtown merchants
    • Worked with the CRA to develop and distribute a downtown map and exploring kiosk maps
    • Completing 2nd Full Year Rock’n Riverwalk year-round FREE Concert Series
    • Hosting over 40 downtown events, Returning community favorite, Dancin’ in the Streets, to
      Downtown Stuart and hosting a dozen other events including craft and art shows, family
      festivals like Hobgoblins on Main Street and the Christmas on Main Street tree lighting, and
      retail events like Shop-a-Palooza and Stuart Stroll
    • Better utilized funds and volunteers year-round, by transitioning two beloved events to other community organizations
      • Star Spangled Stuart to Kiwanis of Martin County
      • Christmas Parade to VNA in conjunction with Winter Wonderland
    • Earning Coastal Living “Happiest Seaside Town in America” recognition.
    • Running seasonal advertising campaigns promoting downtown
    • Award-winning Shop Local program continues to expand
  • Hosted the statewide Florida Main Street Conference and the Secretary of State Awards Dinner,
    bringing some 250 people to Stuart September 8-11. Hosted a regional Main Street 1010 class.
  • Anticipate hosting a quarterly FMS meeting in 2017 including screening the film Urban Century.
  • Developed and turned over to the City a citizen education program
  • Partnered with Stuart Heritage to bring Heritage Day tours of significant commercial buildings downtown.
  • Completed a digital communications review and developed a strategy to better connect with you, our
    members and the larger community.
  • Launched a Finance Committee to consistently ensure good stewardship of funds from contributions
    and sponsorships
  • Board, committee and volunteer development
    • Expanded board to 15
    • Implemented new Orientation Program
    • Attended Main Street America and Florida Main Street conferences and meetings
    • Main Street America 4 Point Refresh training
  • Professional development of Executive Director
    • Certified Florida Redevelopment Administrator, completed
    • Nationally Certified Revitalization Professional, in progress
    • FRA and FMS presenter
  • Received two more Florida Main Street Awards and exploring application for Great American Main Street Awards
    • Outstanding Public-Private Partnership, Happiest Seaside Town in America
    • Outstanding Special Event, Rock’n Riverwalk