Main Street Fort Pierce
2011 Great American Main Street Award
Fort Pierce, Florida
Award Type: GAMSA
- Main Street began: 1988
- Population: 44,227
- Net new jobs: 404
- Net new businesses: 88
- Building rehabs: 136
- New buildings: 17
- Vacancy rate when Main Street started: 40%
- Vacancy rate today: 8%
- Public investment: $14,575,000.00
- Private investment $25,020,000.00
Main Street Fort Pierce has proved to be a a resilient organization that serves a strong community. After being hit by back to back hurricanes causing severe damage to their historic district and renovations already underway, Main Street completely rose to the challenge and not only recovered, but to the opportunity to create something even better. Over time Fort Pierce has transformed their unattractive and vancat downtown into a viable and atractive commercial district. And they continue to grow and innovate as the city and county work to become a national model for energy efficiency.
In Their Own Words
Main Street Fort Pierce (MSFP) is already a winner but this award would be a crowning moment for the people who have been dedicated to the cause for over 22 years. One only has to walk the brick paved sidewalks, visit the beautiful Sunrise Theatre, Platts Backus House, Historic City Hall, stroll along the riverfront, and enjoy just one of our many unique eateries or galleries to get that winning feel for Fort Pierce. Florida Main Street has awarded MSFP seven awards for outstanding events, rehabilitation projects, and leadership in the past ten years. Our manager was chosen as Florida Main Street’s Outstanding State Main Street Supporter and AARP named Fort Pierce as one of the best places to retire for an enjoyable lifestyle. We’re a resilient organization serving a strong community. In 2004 our city was hit with two back-to-back hurricanes which caused severe damage to 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 making repairs and moving forward. That same hurricane destroyed the city marina’s docks. And while the docks still have not been replaced, we’ve been able to increase traffic to Marina Square through our continued events and beautification efforts.
They're Not Done Yet!
Q: What are Fort Pierce's plans for the next five years?
A: At this point our focus will turn from renovation to repositioning the downtown district as a terrific blend of commercial and residential activity. With the opening of the Renaissance on the River, the first residential development to open downtown since the boom of the 20’s, there is a resurgence of interest in folks living in the district. We also must balance that effort to help the surrounding historic neighborhoods where we’ve seen an increase in older homes converted to combination living quarters/small business sites.
Removal of the city’s old power plant from prime district waterfront property opens a new opportunity for development of a downtown hotel/convention center or other appropriate use that would increase foot traffic. MSFP will take a lead role in working with the public and private sector to ensure decisions made regarding this key property and others, such as the sprawling SunTrust building, will complement and enhance the progress we’ve made over the last 20 years.
We will continue to work with the business community to help them adapt to changes in the economy. Our county has relied heavily on agriculture, tourism, and new development in the past. By promoting diversity within our business mix we will help build some immunity to the volatility of the national economy.
We will also be heavily involved in the county and city’s proposed effort to become a national model for energy efficiency with the creation of the nation's first "Green District" with the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The "Green District" involves turning part of Fort Pierce into an energy efficiency zone by checking and bench marking a defined section of buildings, finding ways to cut energy costs. A $2.9 million loan fund has been established for energy-efficient products through an agreement with the County, City, Indian River State College and USDA.