Coming soon: a new look for old South 3rd Street

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm

Reporter – News Analyst


Artist rendering looking south along S. 3rd Street toward Beech Street.
View of former lumberyard from City Hall parking lot.

What was once Fernandina Lumber is today a razed lot. But work may begin as early as next month on a development of 22 townhouses, complete with their own garages. The project is being developed by Artisan Homes on 1.48 acres zoned Mixed Use (MU-1). Plans have been underway for several months. Occupying most of the block lying between 2nd and 3rd Streets and bounded on the south by Beech Street, the development area is not part of the Central Business District and was unaffected by the recent density increase.

At their April 20, 2017 Monthly Meeting, the Historic District Council (HDC) of the city of Fernandina Beach gave a unanimous thumbs up to the development with some conditions:

  • Fencing be made of wood (not vinyl)
  • Shutters be made of composite or wood (not vinyl)
  • Windows be simulated divided lite (SDL)
  • Hardiplank be smooth finish
  • Entry way handrails be metal
  • 3rd Street façade of building #14 (corner of 3rd and Beech Streets) be softened to look less stark in contrast to the front facades of other units.
Artist rendering of 2nd Street facades looking south toward Beech Street

In presenting his staff report, city Preservation Planner Sal Cumella noted how the developer had addressed staff and HDC concerns raised at the conceptual approval stage of the project (see :

  • The buildings have been offset slightly to avoid a monolithic appearance.
  • Design details that mimic those on other buildings in the Historic District have been added to help soften lines and differentiate the units.
  • Different types of brick will be used from unit to unit.
  • HVAC units have been placed on roofs and are not visible from the street.
  • Garages are one story with no apartment above.

HDC Secretary Sylvie McCann and Preservation Planner Sal Cumella. Arrayed in front of them are samples of the various brick fronts that will be used on the townhouse units.

As part of his analysis, Cumella noted that the proposed buildings are 29 feet in height, although the maximum allowed in this zoning district is 35 feet. The proposed development is also under the maximum allowed for impervious area. While the developer is only required to provide 12,802 square feet of landscaped area, plans call for 21,021 square feet. Rooftops will be flat and allow for roof terraces.

Eleven units that face 2nd and 3rd Streets have separate garages. Units on Beech Street incorporate garages in the primary structure. The same holds true for the 2 most northern units on 3rd and the most northern unit on 2nd Street. Access to the garages will be from an alley that will be entered from S. 3rd Street.

Morgan Brown (l) and Asa Gillette respond to HDC concerns.

Morgan Brown of Artisan Homes and project agent Asa Gillette responded to HDC questions about various aspects of the project. They agreed to the conditions set forth by the HDC and agreed to do additional work on shutters and side façade softening for unit 14, the building which faces Beech Street but presents a long side along 3rd Street, where front facades from many units face.

There were no comments from the audience.

According to information provided by Brown and Gillette after the meeting, they hope to begin construction next month. With HDC approval they must now complete review by the city’s Technical Review Committee and obtain permits. At this time, they estimate that the cost per unit will be in the $400-thousand range.

City of Fernandina Beach Historic District Council members (l-r):  Michael Spino (alternate), Angela Conway, Robert Erickson, Chair Michael Harrison, Vice Chair Jennifer King-Cascone, William Tilson, James Pozzetta (alternate), City Attorney Tammi Bach
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9 Responses to Coming soon: a new look for old South 3rd Street

  1. Dave Lott says:

    Very nice looking project. At the $400,000+ price range it will be interesting to see how quickly they sell.

  2. Laura Grant says:

    I gave permission to remove my posts. They were a bit mean spirited. The townhouses are pretty, they just have no place in downtown Fernandina in my opinion. That said, at least they look nice.

  3. Barb Gingher says:

    I think they look great and will be a great addition to our town….

  4. We are looking forward to having the units as our neighbors. Hopefully they will all need to decorate their walls with work from our local artists. Unfortunately it is providing us with a parking problem we have not ever had to worry about before. Looks like we will need to get used to parking in the city lot across from the Hampton. Up until now we have been generously allowed to use by the lumber yard parking lot behind Bright Mornings. Parking is a city wide problem. Maybe if we all resolve to use the city lots instead of the parking spaces closest to our businesses, especially the restaurants staff’s who use the nearby Ash Street Parking to avoid parking in front of their own business, could leave all the street parking for “our” customers instead of tying up all those spaces for the whole day…me included. We may possibly need a loading and unloading zone in the area because artists and their customers have lots of big items to load and unload.

  5. teri springer says:

    Why does the artist’s rendering say 2nd and Beech but the article says 3rd and Beech? Which is it? Or is it both? In fact, I think this is a huge improvement over the empty and decaying building. I agree with all the changes the board made….the facade of the unit on the left looks like a business or school, not a residence. I do like that they don’t all look alike and I like that they have their own parking….and I wonder how many cars will end up on the street (taking up the already almost nonexistent parking) because the residents have 2 cars or guests or they end up using their garages for storage….

    • teri springer says:

      Ok, my fault. I see what they did. Still have to wonder how this is going to effect parking in the area. Are the garages one or two car? Because, if one unit has 2 cars and only a single car garage, we are adding a minimum of 22 more cars taking up space on the street. I can foresee where this could become a problem for the local businesses.

  6. Betsy Widnes says:

    If they do not have elevators, many seniors will pass them by.

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