Change is coming, if you haven’t noticed. The downtown area is becoming the hottest place to live, work and play, while properties are redeveloped to make more sense in the changed local economy. Prime locations are everywhere, if you only take the time to look. The Boat House is “under contract”, the old Pecan Roll closed recently and the old Picker’s Market will change in a very interesting way, I’m told. We’re on the verge of seeing a very useful CRA and some needed redevelopment or repurposing of property in Fernandina. The renovation underway at the Old School House is another example. I can name a number of positive changes coming.
With limited views and unique locations, we all drive by older buildings without considering the potential benefits. Change in use means added vitality for downtown, tax revenue and a side benefit from the complimentary effect of nearby diverse, thriving businesses.
If you think about the potential changes and ways the downtown area evolved over the last century, you’ll understand Fernandina a little more. Last month, the old First Baptist Church Sunday School building went under contract and is slated for redevelopment into high end loft space. The demand is high for living space near commercial uses, so repurposing older buildings, a trend in most waterfront commercial districts, is becoming the biggest trend here. The old Fernandina Lumber site is moving forward with foundations poured for townhomes. Considering the website, the price per foot ranges are hitting new highs for an area approaching oceanfront demand. An improved library, eclectic food and shopping and remaining available sites, just waiting for the right investor/developer, means Historic Fernandina is seeing a rebirth, with high interest in preservation and seeking a new logic for every area.
As a local, I still feel the nostalgia. Shrimp Festival began in the same year I was born, so I grew up watching boats race and the town change from a kind of Mayberry, to something far more sophisticated. Think about value and what we see as desirable in a location. We all think about proximity to work and play, but what about dining, shopping, history, libraries, a post office and interesting people? What about views or the ambiance of a location?
I work in the historic district and generally walk to buy a coffee each day, walk a few blocks to the water and take the time to check new projects like the newest Artisan Homes project, Harbor View. Pricing for a completed Harbor View home and the obvious interest tells me the demand was complete misunderstood by most. I’m a broker and I didn’t anticipate quite so many sales this soon or the demand!