Improving the viability of Aviles Street

Historic City News has been following the efforts of business and property owners who are participating in a project whose purpose is to reinforce Aviles Street as a retail destination.

Last night, several stakeholders met and were presented with a project update developed by from local landscape architect Fred Halback and project manager Jeremy Marquis.

Halback Design Group, Inc., is providing creative support to the community without charge. Halback and Marquis, aided by a University of Florida student working in their office this summer, have produced a proposed design and strategy that, if accepted, will hopefully increase access and visibility using low-cost “design on a dime” techniques.

According to Marquis’s presentation, the framework plan addresses encouraging pedestrian traffic across King Street, identifying Aviles Street as a destination by creating an inviting entrance, creating opportunities for “cafe’ seating” and other on-street activities, devising a plan for vehicular and pedestrian traffic, providing customer parking and improving nightime visibility.

Dan Holiday, who is one of the few remaining craftsmen still manufacturing a local product for sale to visitors on Aviles Street, says that during a recent visit to St. Augustine by a delegation from Aviles, Spain, the Mayor of that city came into Holiday’s leather shop and purchased a hand-made bag as a reminder of her trip.

Holiday says that she was disappointed in the condition that she found the street named for her city.

Last night’s meeting was the second neighborhood meeting since the project was proposed. Halback recommends that the group seek an opinion of appropriateness from the Historic Architectural Review Board as a next step in this process.

Since the involvement and participation of the Aviles Street business and property owners is critical for the success of this project, Marquis is also developing building-specific or business-specific suggestions.

The scope of the work, as proposed last night, includes simple solutions such as the use of potted plants created by local garden clubs, working with landlords and other property owners to complete needed painting, use of outdoor tables and chairs, curb, brick and other street improvements, working with FPL and the city to replace the existing street lights with a style more compatable with the Plaza and other areas of the city.

Another important step in the project will be discussions about policies and ordinances prior to appearing before the full Commission at a future meeting.

Photo credit: © 2009 Historic City News photographer Kerry McGuire

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