The rumors of tearing down entire blocks of Centre to build condos is impossible or extremely unlikely for a number of reasons. It stirred up a lot of people during an election, but amounts to fearmongering to people. I tried to explain to a group of people, including one person spreading the rumor, but instead of replying to the explanation, he said I must have some ulterior interest since I’m in the “INDUSTRY”. Fear brings out the voter, but the average person sees an issue in a newspaper story or hears about it from a neighbor. I was in a group for months looking at the change to density…what it would change and whether it would be a good thing for downtown. At the end of the day, in my opinion, it eventually changes the peak times parking is used and creates a path for use of upstairs areas for residential use…ultimately reducing the use and parking impact on the area.
The market would also not allow a profit with a large scale conversion to condos. The cost is prohibitive, the HDC restricts that kind of demo or makes it very difficult and there are mostly individual owners with very small 25’x100′ lots. Even with one property using 3 or 4 lots, the large scale demolition and conversion t condominium use is absurd. All the talk of huge changes, including closing Centre, stirred up everyone, but never was a real possibility.
So, what will happen? We’ll see renovation of older buildings, leading to preservation, because use can match the need for housing. We should see parking impact spread over more hours, leading to a reduced parking issue in the future. We should also see more projects like Harbor View and eventual development of the Standard Marine/Goodsell property. The CRA should begin to function and we should see logical opening of either Alachua or Broome Street. By the way, I support an Alachua Street opening over Broome as a more logical location, because I feel Broome is out of the highest point of traffic in commercial zoning along Alachua and because it offers a logical traffic circulation during events. Pushing a street opening another block toward the port is likely to create an issue with rail access to the port and pushes more traffic toward the 3rd Street residents and homes adjacent to the Port of Fernandina. Making Front Street one way toward the port and toward Center, with either possible at the Alachua opening, reduces traffic toward the port from Center, but still allows access for businesses located in a primarily industrial area between Alachua and Dade.
Doesn’t it make sense to consider ways to benefit all stakeholders, including the Port of Fernandina, the City of Fernandina Beach, the CRA and, indirectly, the surrounding private owners?