Downtown outdoor dining program launches, participation deadline is this week

The City of Stuart has announced a pilot program to increase outdoor dining in the historic downtown area. The program, developed in conjunction with Stuart Main Street and the Downtown Business Association, allows food service establishments in the area to use existing landscape bump outs and adjacent parking areas to create outdoor seating areas. Restaurants must apply for a pilot program permit, pay for the cost of constructing the dining platform and railing, and furnish the dining space to program standards in order to participate in the program. The deadline to apply for the pilot program is Friday, April 6, 2012.

“Visitors to waterfront communities like Stuart expect outdoor dining as part of the ambiance of the historic district. Yet that demand has gone largely unmet,” explained CRA Administrator Teresa Lamar-Sarno. “This program is an opportunity to help our downtown businesses better meet their customers’ expectations while improving the overall ambiance of the district.”

Interested restaurants must submit an Outdoor Dining Pilot Program License Application. The form is available from both the City of Stuart Development Department and the City of Stuart Community Redevelopment Agency. Qualified applicants will complete a pre-application meeting with the city to establish fees for the improvements. Once applicants are approved, the city will build and install the dining platforms. The city expects to have the program in operation by mid-May. If the 18-month pilot project is successful, establishments can then apply for a monthly lease for the dining space.

The Stuart Downtown Business Association (DBA) formed to market the shops, galleries, restaurants, and professional businesses of Stuart’s Historic Downtown and the surrounding areas. The group advocates for business owners and promotes a positive image of the downtown business district as a unique alternative to “cookie cutter” mall shopping through marketing, events, and other promotions. The DBA meets the fourth Wednesday of every month at 8:00 a.m. in the City Hall Chambers at 121 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart. For more information visit www.historicdowntownstuart.com.

Stuart Main Street is a historic preservation-based program dedicated to building a healthy, vital downtown area through community self-reliance and a focus on the downtown’s traditional assets: personal service, local ownership, unique architecture, and sense of community. Formed in 1987, the group follows the Main Street Four-Point Approach® as established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center and practiced in over 1600 communities across the country. Stuart Main Street meets the second Tuesday of every month at 4:30 p.m. in the City Hall Chambers at 121 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart. For more information, visit stuartmainstreet.org or call 772-286-2848.

The City of Stuart is a coastal community of approximately 16,000 on the East Coast of Florida. The local economy focuses on trade and services with a stable population base that includes approximately 30-percent retirees. The city’s utility services provide water treatment, distribution and collection and wastewater treatment and disposal to the 6.8 square-mile city as well as some unincorporated parts of Martin County. The city is directed by the Board of Commissioners, which meets on the second and fourth Monday of every month at 5:30 in the City Hall Chambers at 121 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart. For more information, please visit www.cityofstuart.com.