City broadens quest for interest in improving Amelia Riverfront and CRA properties

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Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 11, 2019 10:30 a.m.

The city via Fernandina Beach Main Street in late 2018 solicited expressions of interest in redeveloping the former Vuturo property, now owned by the city, at 101 North Front Street.  Only one response was received, which included plans for broader waterfront development.  Commissioners asked that the city manager reach out to a broader audience to solicit more expressions of interest to tackle the other waterfront projects identified in the only response to date.

Martin, with input from individual commissioners and city staff,  crafted a call for additional expressions of interest.  The request was posted on the city’s website March 8, 2019 and is provided below:

Waterfront Partnership

Through the City of Fernandina Beach’s Main Street organization, Expressions of Interest related to the use/redevelopment of a City-owned Amelia River waterfront property were solicited several months ago. Only one response was received, and that response was more expansive than the single parcel originally presented (an “unsolicited proposal”). That response has generated interest in a coordinated redevelopment effort for the City’s Amelia River waterfront (defined as all property from what is commonly referred to as Parking Lot D [inclusive] north to the Port of Fernandina [exclusive], from the Amelia River to 2nd Street). In accordance with applicable State statutes, City officials seek to determine the interest of other parties reflective of the initial unsolicited proposal.

Therefore, if interested, please answer the following questions (NOTE: it is not necessary to respond to all questions if interest is limited in scope). The response to each question should be limited to no more than a single-spaced, single-sided page (11-point font, one-inch margins). Responses (one original, six copies) are due to the City Manager, 204 Ash Street, Fernandina Beach, FL, 32034, no later than 4:00 PM, Friday, March 29, 2019.

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1. Within the designated area, how do you envision the redevelopment/establishment of the shoreline to enhance resiliency, mitigate sea-level rise, minimize tidal flooding, and protect against storm surge?

2. What opportunities do you see for publicly- and privately-owned properties (vacant or otherwise available for redevelopment) to enhance this coordinated redevelopment, specifically regarding the historic context and scale of the area?

3. What role or use do you envision for existing City-owned structures? With its proximity to the waterfront, please also consider the redevelopment of the existing City Hall facility.

4. Please describe your funding capacity, both in access to private funding as well as federal, state, or regional grant funding? What City resources (staff, financial, or in-kind) will be needed for this effort to be successful?

Upon receipt, responses will be reviewed by the City Commission, with the intent to commence discussions with the selected party to establish a more formal relationship. The City Commission review (and possible selection) is anticipated to be on April 3, 2019.

If additional information is desired (including the coordination of a site visit), please contact Mr. Dale L. Martin, City Manager, (904) 310-3100, [email protected].

Thank you for your interest in the City of Fernandina Beach.

Suanne Thamm 4Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

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3 Responses to City broadens quest for interest in improving Amelia Riverfront and CRA properties

  1. Frank Quigley says:

    Editor, from the peanut gallery, here are some thoughts about the waterfront:

    Glad to see the city continue this process. My 2 cents? Less is more along the water. Perhaps a simple promenade from north to south, with some simple features including places for folks to gather. The concept of a place for all is important. It seems absolutely doable to have a space where locals can ride up to on bikes, or tourists can walk down Center to access. It could be attractive all day long, but you could imagine how it could become a great place for sunsets – locals would love it and the downtown merchants especially restaurants should see some pick-up.

    Perhaps an amphitheater on the south end for Shrimp Fest and things like that (Sounds on Center becomes Sounds at Sunset?). Perhaps a fishing pier on the north end. There are a bunch of fish that come right into the marina. We could use more shore & pier fishing access for the locals. (One problem with these two features is the caution from the engineers about rising water levels and storm surge damage, which seems absolutely predictable.) Other than that, simple gathering places for people.

    Finally, I do think the marina might be more viable if the project is completed and as attractive as we all hope. I don’t know that business but it’s just a hunch. But an attractive approach from the water would, umm, attract.

    Regarding what private developers would want with adjoining space? I’d hope for event space (a pretty big business here – especially south-island resorts), perhaps restaurants (although we might be saturated in that regard) or upscale bars. Hotel space for sure – thinking that the number of rooms on the island seems to be headed straight up in terms of numbers – but downtown would have an advantage. Location, location, location. Boutique lodging would be awesome.

    Mr. Martin’s note is spot on regarding City Hall, as it sits on prime real estate, especially if a broad and attractive waterfront comes to fruition.

    The fly in the ointment would be parking. Even though you’d want walkers and bikers to access the park, if it is successful and downtown becomes busier there will need to be some solution. Perhaps a lot off to the side or a small deck. But any RFP proposal needs to address that.

    All of this to say, the simpler the design the more elegant it could be.

    Frank Quigley
    Fernandina Beach

  2. Gerald Decker says:

    The other evening my wife and I were having dinner at Salty Pelican when a big, lumbering freight train came thru, completely obscuring the view. The real “fly in the ointment” aka “white elephant” impacting marina development is CSX. Trains need to stop at Rayonier…..then the marina area can flurish

  3. Penny Landregan says:

    I love my town of Fernandina Beach and am always so proud to show it off. What’s lacking, in my humble opinion, is Parking and green space. So, with the marina well on its way to completion, I would love to see an additional parking lot for residents and visitors. I would also like to see a beautiful green area at the marina where people can come, sit, relax and watch our beautiful nature all around us. Talk about paradise!

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