2010 GAMSA Semifinalist Fort Pierce, Florida

In 1995, Fort Pierce was declining and Main Street Fort Pierce (MSFP), despite a lack of interest by city leaders, pushed forward with a community charrette – existing leadership didn’t even attend the planning meeting. That original plan is now the city’s master plan for the district and affects the entire city by creating a foundation that has led to: needed ordinance and zoning changes; commitments for a downtown library; streetscaping; and a renewed enthusiasm by business owners to paint or even completely rehabilitate their buildings. Through the efforts of MSFP, downtown now hosts several monthly events that draw customers to the district. Adding a foot patrol officer who is visible to business owners and visitors has changed Fort Pierce from a “scary” place to visit at night to the hotspot of the county. Finally, the leadership of MSFP in funding and renovating historic buildings like the Sunrise Theatre, Platts Backus House, Historic City Hall, and others has created a legacy that old-timers and newcomers alike will enjoy for decades to come.

The Numbers

Population: 44,227
Net number of new jobs: 404
Net number of new businesses: 88
Number of building rehabilitations: 136
Number of new buildings: 17
Vacancy rate when the program began: 40%
Vacancy rate today: 8%
Dollar amount of public investment: $14,575,000
Dollar amount of private investment: $25,020,000

In Their Own Words

MSFP is already a winner, but this award would be a crowning moment for the people who have dedicated themselves to this cause for over 20 years. One only has to walk along the brick paved streets; visit the beautiful Sunrise Theatre, Platts Backus House, and Historic City Hall; stroll along the riverfront, and enjoy just one of our many unique eateries or galleries to get the winning feel of Fort Pierce. Florida Main Street has given MSFP seven awards for outstanding events, rehabilitation projects, and leadership over the past 10 years. Most recently, our manager, Doris Tillman, was chosen as Florida Main Street’s Outstanding State Main Street Supporter; and AARP recently named Fort Pierce one of the best places to retire. We’re a resilient organization serving a strong community. In 2004, our city was hit with two back-to-back hurricanes that severely damaged Historic City Hall and the Sunrise Theatre while it was still being renovated. The devastation was significant enough to earn Fort Pierce a spot in People Magazine’s feature on the best and worst of the year. We stepped up to the challenge by making repairs and moving forward. That same hurricane destroyed the city marina’s docks. But while the docks still have not been replaced, we’ve increased traffic to Marina Square through our continued events and beautification efforts.