Florida Main Street
Program of the Month
May 2008 Program of the Month
Main Street Fort Pierce
Main Street Fort Pierce Named Florida Main Street Program of the MonthSecretary of State Kurt S. Browning announced today that Main Street Fort Pierce has been named the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for May 2008. Programs are selected for this award based on their participation in the Florida Main Street Program. With a population over 40,000, the City of Fort Pierce is also home to another of Florida Main Street’s affiliated communities, the Lincoln Park district. One of the first Florida Main Street programs, Main Street Fort Pierce was designated in 1988. Since that time, Fort Pierce has benefited from over $135 million in public and private reinvestment, gained 88 new businesses, and created over 400 jobs. Designation of Main Street Fort Pierce as Program of the Month comes as the organization reaches a milestone, celebrating its 20th Anniversary on May 7.
“Main Street Fort Pierce is a shining example of the success of the Main Street Approach to downtown revitalization,” said Secretary Browning. “This organization’s achievements show that the Main Street Four-Point Approach is a valid and useful economic engine for Florida communities.”
Fort Pierce was originally the site of a United States military outpost during the Second Seminole War. Although the fort itself was abandoned at the end of the war in 1842, settlers began moving to the area in the late 19th century. The City of Fort Pierce was incorporated in 1901, in what was then Brevard County. A coastal community, Fort Pierce’s early economy was largely driven by the fishing industry, but citrus and cattle farming soon became lucrative in the area. The city enjoyed an era of prosperity shortly after railroads reached the city limits, bringing new residents and allowing the export of commodities. St. Lucie County was founded, out of Brevard, in 1905, to include Fort Pierce and nearby towns, although the area had been referred to as “Santa Lucia” as early as the late 1500s, during the period of Spanish occupation. Today, Fort Pierce remains a key economic and transportation hub for South Florida, served by the Florida Turnpike, Interstate 95, and the Atlantic Ocean. Modern educational and research facilities, including Indian River Community College, the $6 million Smithsonian Institution Research Center, and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, also serve the area. In addition to the current restoration of the historic A.E. Backus House, Main Street Fort Pierce’s many successes include: the complete renovation of the 1925 City Hall; current restoration of the 1,200 seat Sunrise Theater, which will soon become a regional performing arts center; and construction of the Manatee Observation and Education Center.
Florida Main Street is a technical assistance program of the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State. The Bureau conducts statewide programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, and preserving Florida’s historic resources. Main Street, with its emphasis on preservation, is an effective strategy for achieving these goals in Florida’s historic retail districts. Since 1985 the Bureau has offered manager training, consultant team visits, design and other technical assistance, as well as the benefit of experience gained by other Florida Main Street Programs. More than 90 communities across the state have received historic preservation and downtown revitalization assistance from Florida Main Street since the program was initiated by the Department of State in 1985.
Statistics provided by local Main Street programs reflect the positive change that has occurred in local program areas over the past 23 years. Public and private reinvestment in local program areas has exceeded $1.8 billion. New construction and rehabilitation projects (many projects involving historic buildings) total more than 12,800. In addition, there have been more than 9,000 businesses started and expanded, and more than 13,000 new jobs created.
To learn more about Main Street Fort Pierce, contact Doris Tillman at 772.466.3880 or visit the organization’s Web site at www.mainstreetfortpierce.org.