Grant Will Fund Commercial Revitalization of Gateway Business District
STUART, FL – December 22, 2011 – The City of Stuart Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) announced today it has been awarded a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Commercial Revitalization from the Florida State Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for the Colorado Avenue Business District Improvement Project. According to the DEO website, the project was ranked second out of five applicants and received 100% of the $750,000 the CRA applied for. The balance of the $1.2-million project will be covered by matching funds from the CRA. The agency anticipates receiving a grant contract in early January and beginning work as early as spring 2012.
“In this new economy, it is more critical than ever that the city look at creative ways to compete with surrounding business communities. This project has enormous potential to improve the climate for existing businesses in the Colorado Avenue corridor, as well as attract new business and jobs to the area,” said CRA Administrator, Teresa Lamar-Sarno. “We are very excited to get word of the funding, and appreciative of the hard work of the many community organizations, businesses and individual citizens who came together to support the project.”
The plan, which redesigns the stretch of Colorado Avenue between U.S. 1 and Dixie Highway, would reduce auto traffic speeds, improve pedestrian and bicycle access, increase parking, and improve visibility and access to businesses along the roadway. “These improvements are in keeping with the city’s CRA plan,” said Lamar-Sarno. “The CRA vision and the revised plan approved in 2009, identify Colorado Avenue as a key area for improvement with traffic calming and streetscaping. Cities across the country that have completed similar projects have seen reduced vacancy rates and increased private investment, sales tax revenue, and property values.” Other aspects of the project include widening sidewalks, adding landscaping, creating drivable medians, and improving the overall connectivity to the historic downtown area.
Before applying for the grant, the CRA undertook an extensive community input process through public hearings and community meetings. The final plan received unprecedented support from businesses and community groups, many of whom took the time to write letters of support for the grant application, sighting the projects economic and quality of life benefits.
The City of Stuart Community Redevelopment Agency was created in 1986 to eliminate slum and blighted conditions in its communities and re-established and expanded in 1998 and 2002. The CRA is directed by the Community Redevelopment Board (CRB) and implements the objectives, programs and projects defined in the CRA Plan adopted by the City of Stuart in August 2002. The CRB meets the first Tuesday of every month at 4:00 in the City Hall Chambers at 121 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart. For more information, please visit www.cityofstuart.com.