Dramatic Rooftop Transformation Rave Review

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Conceptual Drawing Submitted to the HDC on 3/19/18 Source: www.fbfl.us and HDC Agenda or www.silling.com for more of their work.

We’ve all been watching the building adjacent to the First Baptist Church on 5th Street for years.  Deteriorating slowly, the square footage was a challenge to repurpose, but thanks to a little vision, money and a great plan by Silling Architects, the conceptual plan above may become a reality.  The Harbor View development on South 2nd Street is another development with rooftop deck or features and great potential views.


As a broker and local, I can see the way Downtown Historic Fernandina is going through a kind of reset of value and expectations.  With views like this, a potential improved waterfront and very intelligent changes to C-3 zoning, we’ll see more mixed use in the downtown area and, in my opinion, an extended period of viability to parking as uses create a need at very different times.

Amazing Views and Sunsets

Healthy Choices in Fernandina

Downtown Fernandina on Amelia Island is the cultural and dining center of the island. My favorite lunch, by far, is the poke bowl at Timoti’s Seafood Shak.

Poke Bowl with Extra Ahi Tuna

Over the last year, I’ve made a point of eating less processed food and adding healthy options to my day.  With fresh avocado, tuna, coconut rice, spinach, green onion, kelp seasoning and soy, this is my personal favorite.


Complicated Issues in Standard Marine Property Re-development

Standard Marine on April 15th, 2018

We can talk about neglect of buildings or redevelopment, but in areas near the historic district or near the waterfront, some issues become more complicated than it would appear at first glance.  The Standard Marine Building is an example of a potential change in use along the water.  I use the phrase “change  in use” intentionally, since it does have an impact on older structures and the common interruption of a previously viable use.  This property is or was configured to be used as a location to manufacture netting and sell marine hardware.  A part of the building was warehouse and a large fenced area exists behind the structure we think of, when remembering Standard Marine.  In fact, the site is far larger than you might expect, extending from Alachua to Broome and from 2nd Street to the Railroad, adjacent to Front Street.   Changes to use and a long interruption of use can mean an entirely new set of considerations, beyond ordinary maintenance or re-use of a property.

Once open, this blocked access may be a huge consideration in the future use for 101 North 2nd Street in Fernandina

Rezoning might be required to continue use for marine repair, net construction and warehouse space.   I’m guessing the location might lend itself to a boating use, but the view, cost to develop, cost of land and changes to the area dictate something far different.  Mixed commercial and residential uses, a hotel or high-end loft space seems far more likely.  Local government and zoning to the property seem to encourage this change as well.

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Watercolor images don’t paint the picture or planning needed to correctly re-use this site.

Elevation changes required for flood insurance and other requirements, not in existence when the structure was originally built, may mean a change to the use or reopening the property without a way to change the finished floor, could make it considerably more difficult to save the structure, without significant burden to an owner.  In spite of this, the owner of the property is investing significant thought and resources into study of preservation options.   As a broker, I would ask a few simple questions.  When preserving, what will be the use for the property, considering a simple preservation may mean opening a Pandora’s Box of code, elevation and historic preservation issues?  I can see why an original (prior) owner might want to decline inclusion the historic district.  What can be done with the building, whether re-use or preservation, and can it be done in a way making economic sense for the owner?  Does current code and an interruption of use create an insurmountable obstacle for the owner?

Entire property…note flood zone AE BFE 10 and top showing 6′ Elevation from www.nassauflpa.com

Current efforts by the current owner, including a significant investment in securing the property have been largely hidden costs from the public’s perspective, as a challenging project takes years longer than originally planned.  An economic downturn, access at Alachua supposedly opening and then in limbo for years, changes or interruption in use and now scrutiny based on the historic nature of the building, might add to cost and time for an owner or developer.

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Historic District and 101 N 2nd

“…being allowed to show what I have done in the past year toward preserving the SM building. The biggest threat was fire by vandalism, vagrants, and other nighttime activities. I have spent in excess of $26,000 cleaning out everything left by the marine hardware co which created a fire hazard and attracted vandals and thieves. Since the basic structure was NOT collapsing my first priority was to secure the building and perimeter fencing which was done and I have pictures to illustrate this clean up. I hired Construction Solutions to assess the structural integrity of the foundation and walls. I felt that this effort represented more than neglect on my part. I plan to hire a historic preservation architect to detail what it will take to restore this building. Construction Solutions (construction engineers) will be asked to update the construction integrity to combat…….assertion that the building is going to collapse. In order to make an intelligent approach in determining the viability of saving this building will require considerably more time than I am being allowed (May2). I want to save this building more than anyone…..” Source: Dick Goodsell Current Owner

The building was not included in the local Historic District at the request of its owners when the District was established in the late 1970’s. However, while owned by the Standard Marine enterprise, the building had been well maintained and treated as a historic building.

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Following its sale to other owners the building has been the centerpiece of various development plans that have never materialized. The building has remained unoccupied for many years, as time, weather and lack of maintenance have taken their toll on the once attractive building. Sources: Fernandina City Commission Agenda Packet April 3, 2018 www.fbfl.org taken from a post by www.FernandinaObserver.com on March 16th, 2018.

As a local, I understand each and every building will not lend itself to preservation and does have a lifespan, but we should empathize with an owner trying to find a way to preserve an old building, but often finding criticism from those unaware of the investment of time, thought and money or obstacles in the way of even reusing/repurposing the structure.  I reached out to this owner on behalf of an interested party and I still remember the owner’s preference to include the original structure.  As long as the market took to recover and as long as the Alachua opening or waterfront improvements have taken to materialize, I think it might be fair to consider the need for improvements to streets, long-awaited improvements and failing infrastructure, before finding fault.

Another property on South 2nd Harbor View) currently being redeveloped.  Note extensive site work.

If anyone reading this is inclined, a smaller property is being redeveloped on South 2nd Street, behind City Hall.  The elevation is higher than the Standard Marine site at 101 North 2nd, but it does give you some idea of the kinds of changes needed to sites prior to construction and challenges faced, when redeveloping or using a property in an area near the water.  Noticing the existing curb and condition of roadway in the picture above, it is worth assuming a neglected street, missing improvements, deteriorated access or blocked access, can become a kind of cost to an owner.

While we were sleeping…”Boom!”…The Amelia Island Market Changed

The headline in today’s paper, “Boom! Downtown development takes off” is something I’ve been waiting to hear for some time.  In years past, a fairly small group of buyers existed, often picking up properties at a much reduced price.  In slow markets, lowball offers work.  As properties see a higher demand, prime properties or scarce locations become much more desirable.

Vacant lot soon available on North 2nd – 34×125 feet and Zoned C-3 Click image for sales information…

The central business district is key.  Reading through described uses, combine a location in a historic district with potential water views and as many as 2 dozen restaurants within walking distance…you’ll understand why so many are suddenly interested in being in downtown Fernandina Beach.

“2.01.13 Central Business District (C-3)

The C-3 District is intended for the development of land uses within the central business district as the City’s center for residential, financial, commercial, governmental, professional, and cultural activities. The Central Business District category is designed to accommodate single- family or duplex residential uses, either freestanding or in mixed residential and business use structures; offices; commercial retail; personal services establishments; restaurants; transient accommodations; commercial parking facilities; civic uses; and cultural uses.”  http://www.fbfl.us/DocumentCenter/View/16365

I remember describing downtown as the “Heart of Amelia Island” and Fernandina, but it really is true.  I know of no other downtown with the same quality and quantity of entertainment, recreation, food, drink and shopping in tiny, walkable area.  Pick up a copy of the news leader if you want to see some of the proposed additions, but the price points are suddenly higher.

Three large projects were discussed in the article, but a number of others are potentially coming.  The hotel site on North 2nd Street paused, but could come back.  The site is prime and wraps around the Crab Trap, another location available at $2.5 million.  The Goodsell Property aka: Standard Marine, is a potential residential/commercial mixed use site with fantastic potential.   Think about the building, but the “many times larger” footprint with water views and proximity to everything.  Across the street, two other properties, a little smaller, but no less attractive, offer frontage on 2nd and Alachua.   All might be moving soon, but could be poised for development if the Alachua Street improvements are complete.   Think about two new buildings at 2nd and Ash and one block away at 3rd and Ash, the renovation of the Historic Schoolhouse on Atlantic and Salt Life.  When is Salt Life breaking ground anyway?

While we were sleeping, the attention shifted and Fernandina is in the midst of a boom in commercial redevelopment.

9 Landscaping Tips for Florida

Reading a post on landscaping earlier, the only informative thing was the title, “10 Rules….” or something like that.   Working with a great many new homes and existing homes to resell, I have my own set of rules to follow.  

1) We live in Florida, so water and using native plants should be a consideration.  Companies like “Reflections of Nature”, specialize in native landscaping or xeriscape designs.   Taking the time to plan a yard around water and maintenance  makes a huge difference.

2) Use some specimen size plants.  While everything grows, do you want to wait 10 years or have the basic appearance of a landscape in place immediately?  I learned to put money into 1-3 full-size focal points at the beginning.  You never know when you might need a great yard/appearance and you’ll enjoy the landscape while living in your home.  IMG 0890

3) Never plant too close to the structure.  Plants retain water, but can also collect leaves and debris in a way conducive to wood damage or termite entry.  Considering this before planting is important.IMG 0889

4) Scale should be correct.  The size of plants changes over time and plantings can suddenly overwhelm an entry or walkway.  Consider whether your newly purchased home is still landscaped with plants the right size and shape for the space.   IMG 0888

5) How do you plan to create a border or edge bedding?  The best tip I pass on to clients came from my wife.  Use the shape of the edge of a bed to create the edge, not visible plastic edging or any other visible border.  Using a “V” shape at the edge of a bed, to create a bed with depth along the edge and a flat area in planted spots, does exactly what you see with wood, concrete, stone or plastic edging.   I also like pine straw for mulch.  After a few weeks, the pine straw settles in and remains in place.   IMG 0893

6) The biggest mistake I see is in new construction. Some plants will grow to double, triple or quadruple the size in a short time.  Viburnum grows quickly and is cheap to buy, but is rapidly far too large for most spaces.  I recently sold a home with the entire front of the home lined in viburnum, less than 12 inches from the structure.  In less than a year, the shrubs will overgrow the are and the new owner will be digging, cutting or replacing the entire front bed.   We have a 15 foot wall of viburnum at our home….but not 12 inches away from the foundation. Think about growth rates and placement.  What looks good now might be bigger soon.  Plan for low maintenance and common sense plantings.   IMG 0896

7) Think about micro-climates. Most plants thrive in a specific environment.  Using a larger plant, you can create shaded areas where a greater variety of plants might thrive.  

8) Hardscape should be simple.  I hate seeing a yard with so much hardscape it looks like a retail nursery display.  Simple additions like a small entry fountain, bench, rock or other focal point should not be intrusive.  Think about whether your feature enhances the home or becomes the only thing you notice.   

9) If at the beach, don’t try to change the natural landscape.  Dunes look great and native palms or grasses look better than anything you might change.  Besides, most of the areas you might try to replant are considered protected.    IMG 0856

Technology, Island Time and Change

We’re definitely spoiled.  The island makes a wait in line or long drive seem like an unacceptable inconvenience, but this really didn’t hit home until we visited Kennedy Space Center earlier in the week.   Lines were for, literally, a line to get in a line!  Island time, for me, means having extra hours in every day.  Why?  We drive less, have few waits, can play near or during work and a vacation is whenever and wherever you have an extra 10 minutes to enjoy the place you live/work.  IMG 0835

I’m at home working from a laptop this afternoon, texting to two agents, my wife and a client.   Sitting on my front porch with a headset, noise cancellation makes it easy to have a conversation from almost any location, but the sync between my computer, phone and tablet make my mobile office a seamless thing of beauty.  A few years ago, I transitioned to fully digital files.  If I have paper, I scan it into a cloud drive, but even signatures are more accurate and easier to manage.   Every so often, it occurs to me just how much changed in the years after my first sale.  Contracts were shorter, but were often handwritten.   Signatures were never electronic and files are still boxed at my office from my early time in the industry. IMG 0698

I’m posting an update for one client with pictures of a new build and the technology really does change the service.   Every few days, I take a new picture of the construction progress.  If she likes, I’ll even schedule time to “FACETIME” a walk of the property to save hours in travel.   IMG 0619

Time is probably the best part of a place like Amelia Island or Fernandina.  I spend so little time traveling and so little time waiting in line, I can’t even begin to add the value of the extra time I’ve added to my life.  The odd part of living here is in adjusting your routine to move from play to work in short bursts.  I chose to add mobile technology to every part of my business.  Even a recent change to all Apple equipment came down to time and resenting the time I wasted in transition between operating systems.   The other night, we walked out of a restaurant with a 30 minute wait.  How many towns have 10 or 20 other restaurants within walking distance and with nearly equal quality on any given night?   We’re lucky and most of us don’t notice…the occasional extra hours in each day.   IMG 0301

They say you can’t buy time, but you can buy the location, or choose a lifestyle to save time.


I’m enjoying the recent feeds for the #AmeliaConcours hashtag on Twitter so much, I thought I’d add it here on Amelia Island Net. Great images of staging for the show, if you scroll through the feed.  

Parody, Periods and Politics

Reading through a local blog by a locally famous writer, it didn’t occur to me to see the writing as offensive or directed toward anyone in a particularly inappropriate way.   Dave Scott writes in an aggressive style I probably couldn’t pull off, but usually leaves me laughing by the end of his post/rant/editorial. Today’s post began with his opinions on local politics and issues, but ended with a pretty humorous joke about a cannon, adoption agency and a child. No one should take offense and most of his writing covers local interest, with an overly honest opinion from Dave.   Does it trample roughshod over ego?  Sure, but the point of his blog is to express his unfiltered opinions.   I don’t always agree, but he does seem to find the key polarizing issue and problem.  Dave Scott Blog

I would recommend a quick look and reading through more than the parts of each post you might find offensive. If you find yourself leaving with hurt feelings, you might want to reconsider how sanitized your news might be in the rest of your day.  News and editorials aren’t supposed to agree with every opinion you might have. We need grumpy, annoyed, unfiltered writing and reporting.  In my opinion, the more a writer stirs up discussion and the more you find yourself thinking, the better.  Dave, I like to think of as a friend.  He thinks a great deal about local issues and, while he sometimes chooses a less politically correct way to cover the story, he creates discussion by finding the heart of the  issue.   Is the airport terminal a success or example of waste?  Why isn’t the marina running and operating, after 2 years?  Is the commission doing a good job?  Does Dave like the commissioners?  Do we like the commissioners?  Should local politicians weigh in on national issues beyond the scope of local office?   I don’t find anything he writes offensive, but then think about the absurdity of finding offense with anything you choose to read.

Thinking of absurdity, I manage a local’s group with a focus on promoting “ON ISLAND” business.  The rules, yes rules, center around being positive, using real identities and encouraging discussions to reflect the opinions of real locals.  Amazing at times, after asking members to read rules and even indicating that agreement in writing, I’m deleting a member every few days for repeatedly ignoring the rules.   Regardless, the insisting on civility and using a real identity is, in my opinion, doing more to keep the space productive.   I don’t much like the term “safe space”, but “civil space” and discussions make it a great place to talk.  🏝 Amelia Island Local Net  I know, the name is  an intentional mirror of this website.  In using social media, I wanted to have a way to publish from a blog, but also create a positive forum for locals.

This is, apparently, my week to learn about my frequent typing errors and “obvious to anyone” signs I’m older than 40. Do you use two spaces after a “period” or punctuation at end of sentence? I’m so accustomed to the double space, it never occurred to me to question. Letters, once about as common as an email for me, are now once a year and the spacing I use in typing is left over from time with a manual typewriter in the 70’s. I’ll break the habit in a few weeks, but that extra space and knowing it dates every online communication, is reason enough to erase the habit.

But one rule from typing class has definitely expired, and if you’re over 40, it’s possible that no one has given you the message. Here it is:

Unless you are typing on an actual typewriter, you no longer have to put two spaces after a period.  Cult of Pedagogy 3/9/18


Weather and Changes to Concours d’Elegance 2018

Please verify all changes on the event facebook page or on the event website.  The below changes are based on weather forecast for Sunday.

The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance moves to Saturday March 10 due to weather

RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island moves to Friday March 9

Even in the best case scenario, the forecast for Sunday’s scheduled Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance includes rain and lots of it. With a strong chance of heavy precipitation forecast for Sunday and a sunshine-filled Saturday in the mix, The Amelia Concours team has moved Sunday’s award-winning Concours to Saturday. The Concours show will now coincide with Saturday’s Cars & Coffee at the Concours presented by Heacock Classic Insurance.

The new schedule is as follows:

Saturday, March 10, Cars & Coffee at the Concours 9am until 5pm
Saturday, March 10, Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance 9:30am until 5pm

Other important changes include moving Saturday’s Drivers of the IMSA Prototypes Seminar to Sunday at 10:30am in the Talbot Ballroom, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Saturday evening’s Gala is unchanged.

RM Sotheby’s Auction will move to Friday March 9 at 3pm.