By Keona Gardener, News Source @TCPalm
FORT PIERCE — Reviving downtown rests with three proposals to redevelop the former H.D. King power plant site.
The nearly 8-acre site — bordered by Indian River Drive to the east, Second Street to the west and A.E. Backus Avenue to the north — is one of the last publicly owned undeveloped properties in downtown.
The proposals from the Framework Group, of Tampa; Redevelopment Management Associates, of Pompano Beach; and Keith Kite, of Vero Beach, propose a mixed-use development with a hotel, restaurant, shops and parking garage. The Framework Group and RMA would include apartments and townhomes.
That all sounds like the shot in the arm the downtown area needs, and could help with tourism, said Charlie Frank Matthews, chairman of the city Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Committee, which is charged with selecting a proposal to recommend to the City Commission.
“A hotel and conference center was needed in downtown Fort Pierce 10 or 15 years ago,” Matthews said. “We’ve been missing out on a lot of conferences and events simply because we don’t have the facilities.”
The nine-member CRA, which advises the city on downtown-redevelopment issues, is to discuss the proposals 2 p.m. Jan. 17.
Matthews said he has yet to decide which proposal he supports, although, he said, he is leaning toward Kite’s. Kite developed the new Hampton Inn & Suites on 19th Lane in Vero Beach.
“I like Mr. Kite’s project because he knows the area and knows what we are trying to create in Fort Pierce,” Matthews said.
CRA member Plythe Freedman said she, too, hasn’t decided which proposal to support but would like to see more residential development in downtown.
“I think it would be quite a great service to the city to have more residential in downtown because it would create more foot traffic for existing businesses,” Freedman said.
CRA member Cindi O’Connell said combining residential development and businesses would make downtown a destination.
“The apartments and townhomes would promote walking in downtown, and the right mix of businesses would help to create a vibe and bring energy,” O’Connell said.
Matthews and Freedman said they want the city to sell the property to generate property taxes, which could to be used for city services.
“The city of Fort Pierce desperately needs the money to pay for maintenance of roads and salaries for police officers,” Matthews said.
CRA committee members Kristina Gibbons, Allan Reed, Michael Brown Jr., Hoyt Murphy Jr., Al Johnson and Junette Raymond could not be reached for comment.
In recent years, the CRA has recommended the city sell surplus properties. Last year, the city followed a recommendation and sold the former Police Athletic League building on Second Street to Radical Cosmetics for $1 million. The company is set to open spring or summer, officials said.
The committee will forward its recommendation to the Fort Pierce Redevelopment Agency, which consists of members of the City Commission, which has final say on the redevelopment project.
The Framework Group: a three-story, 200-unit apartment complex; six-story, 120-room hotel; 34,000-square-foot conference center; 1,500-square-foot-coffee shop; a 6,500-square-foot restaurant with outside dining; and a four-level parking garage.
Keith Kite: Peachtree Hotel Group, of Atlanta; and Proctor Construction, of Vero Beach: King Station, a restaurant, shops, a four-story hotel and parking garages.
Redevelopment Management Associates, of Pompano Beach: Marina Village, a craft brewery, 84-room hotel, 95 apartments, about 40 townhomes and parking garages..