The Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) is comprised of approximately 2,000 acres and located prominently on U.S. 1, the most important north-south thoroughfare in the City of Port St. Lucie.
The CRA’s primary east-west connection is Port St. Lucie Boulevard. More than 70,000 vehicles utilize the intersection of U.S. 1 and Port St. Lucie Boulevard per day.
According to the CRA Master Plan, the CRA is envisioned as "a central gathering place that creates an identity for the city as well as provides entertainment and economic opportunities. The area will include a variety of development districts and connective open space to better serve Port St. Lucie’s current and future population."
When the City of Port St. Lucie was designed and incorporated by its original developer as a bedroom and retirement community, little consideration was given to the land uses needed to serve a city of this size. As a result, there is no central core or traditional downtown and many residents work, shop and find entertainment outside of the city. This increases distances traveled in traffic, negatively impacts the city’s tax base, hinders the city’s ability to meet the service demands generated by growth, impedes the city’s ability to efficiently utilize its resources and detracts from the quality of life.
The city has made great strides in diversifying land uses over the years to address some of these issues, and new planned communities have improved conditions in the western part of the city. However, the problems in the eastern portion of the city have been pervasive, and the City Council decided that a comprehensive redevelopment effort was needed to achieve sufficient and long-lasting results.
Pursuant to Part III, Chapter 163, Florida Statutes, in January of 2001, the city conducted a study of the socioeconomic and development conditions in its U.S. 1 corridor. This study, known as a "Finding of Necessity," revealed conditions that are detrimental, impair sound growth management and constitute social and economic liability.
Consequently, the city designated the study area as a Community Redevelopment Area (the "CRA"), created the City of Port St. Lucie Community Redevelopment Agency (the "Agency") and established the Redevelopment Trust Fund (the "Fund") in order to undertake community redevelopment activities pursuant to the Community Redevelopment Plan (the "Plan").
The city’s original CRA was approximately 1,700 acres or 2.7 square miles. The original CRA boundary includes the city’s U.S. 1 corridor from just north of Village Green Drive, and south to the St. Lucie/Martin County line. Lennard Road forms most of the eastern boundary, and the western boundary is predominantly the rear property line of those properties fronting U.S. 1 (Federal Highway). Since the CRA’s creation in 2001, two additional areas have been formally designated as part of the CRA; Lentz Grove (now known as "East Lake Village") and the Port St. Lucie Boulevard/Riverwalk District (the "CRA Expansion Area").
Soon after the creation of the CRA, the Mayor and City Council designated themselves as the Agency Board, creating a five-person board in charge of carrying out redevelopment activities, pursuant to Florida Statutes, the Agency’s adopted by-laws and local controls.
In the effectuation of redevelopment activities in the State of Florida, perhaps no local controls are more important than the CRA Master Plan, which sets forth the vision, goals, objectives, policies and critical projects of the CRA and is the culmination of an extensive community-driven planning process that included public design charrettes and workshops.
It is important to highlight the following regarding the Agency:
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Adopted by the City Council on June 11, 2001, the CRA Master Plan was the culmination of an extensive community-driven planning process which included design charrettes and workshops. Based on hundreds of hours of input from citizens, business owners, property owners, elected officials, city staff, professional consultants and other community stakeholders, the CRA Master Plan serves to set forth the vision, goals, objectives, policies and critical projects of the CRA. As voiced by the community throughout the creation of the CRA Master Plan, the CRA will be:
…a central gathering place that creates an identity for the city as well as provides entertainment and economic opportunities. The area will include a variety of development districts and connective open space to better serve Port St. Lucie’s current and future population.
Adoption of the CRA Master Plan signaled the beginning of a comprehensive long-term approach to redevelopment which will span the next 20 to 30 year period. The CRA Master Plan provides a flexible framework to guide the Agency in its redevelopment efforts, and it addresses near-term and long-term development scenarios and options, identifying realistic projects for implementation based on the opportunities, needs, and fiscal resources of the community. The CRA Master Plan strives to account for the needs of citizens and business interests; enhance the community; encourage smart growth; and acknowledge the existing economic conditions of the region.
Like the city’s Comprehensive (Master) Plan, the CRA Master Plan is a "living" document which must be evaluated and amended from time to time in order to accurately reflect changing conditions and community objectives.
The CRA Master Plan calls for the development of a town center at U.S. 1 and Walton Road (City Center) and for a variety of mixed-use, commercial, office, residential and recreational districts.
While it references the "original" CRA and the Plan, the CRA Expansion Master Plan is a stand-alone document and provides the redevelopment plan for the CRA Expansion Area. Written by the same consultant who authored the Plan, the CRA Expansion Master Plan very much mirrors the Plan, providing similar analyses and formatting. The important differences between the CRA Expansion Master Plan and the Plan are the vision, goals, and objectives. The CRA Expansion Master Plan has a unique vision, goals and objectives for the Expansion Area. As excerpted from the CRA Expansion Master Plan:
Extending its reach across Port St. Lucie Boulevard to the North Fork of the St. Lucie River, this expansion addresses the city’s aspirations of developing an economically viable riverfront area to complement a downtown or central business district…An important attribute of the redevelopment expansion plan is its mixed-use approach to future development and redevelopment within the CRA, especially the creation of a Riverwalk and associated development on the St. Lucie River. Three character districts make up the CRA Expansion Area: the Port St. Lucie Boulevard Gateway District, the Riverwalk South District, and the Riverwalk North District. The major themes of the CRA Expansion Master Plan include: