Pine Avenue and a Man with a Vision...
Last Updated January 12, 2009: Everyone on Anna Maria Island should know what the Pine Avenue restoration project is. It has been in the news now for some time, and construction is already well underway.
A Man With a Vision - We begin our story back in mid 2007, when a man with a vision took that vision to Anna Maria city commissioners and began winning support for what now is known as the Pine Avenue Restoration Project.
This artist’s rendering is of a sample business/residential structure proposed in a renovation project for Pine Avenue in Anna Maria. The drawing was done by local architect Gene Aubry and would be built at the corner of Crescent and Pine.
Michael Coleman's Vision of Pine Avenue
City residence have long envisioned Pine Avenue as a signature corridor for Anna Maria. Classified as residential/office/retail (ROR), the Pine Avenue story goes way back, according to resident Michael Coleman, who had a vision for how to make that mix of uses a reality.
That vision is what has lead to the Pine Avenue Restoration project. That original vision included a sweeping proposal to use as many as 24 lots to build two-story, Florida cracker-style structures housing small businesses on the ground floor and residences above.
To that end, and nearly a year and a half ago, Coleman had already quietly signed contracts to purchase 21 of those lots and was negotiating to buy three more.
Pine Avenue Restoration Presented to City Commissioners
Coleman outlined his plan to city commissioners on July 12, 2007. In the audience were a number of local business leaders, including Sandbar restaurant owner Ed Chiles. Chiles confirmed that he was an investor in the project, and suggested that one of the locations - on North Bay Boulevard across from Bayview Plaza - would be a perfect spot for a new restaurant.
Coleman told commissioners he wanted the business/residential buildings to fit in with the architecture of the area, such as Roser and Mango cottages, which provide historical perspective. He vowed to keep the bulk of the structures small, two-story structures
Coleman presented drawings by renowned local architect Gene Aubry of two sample buildings. "We now find ourselves in a paradox," Coleman said, "in which, that which is most desirable (mixed use, small business/residential) is most difficult to achieve and that that which is least desired - three-story row houses lining Pine Avenue and wiping out what precious little commercial opportunity we have - is the simplest to achieve.”
The Pine Avenue Vision for the Future
"In 1911, when the city pier was built, people would land on the pier and promenade down Pine Avenue," Coleman said. "That’s the vision we all have for Pine Avenue."
The fact that Coleman was able to quietly tie up 21 lots along Pine Avenue without creating a stir in the community was, in itself, something of a feat. He said one reason he was able to do it was because of the falling real estate market.
Considering the current state of economy in this country, and around the world, and particularly the United States real estate market, perhaps Coleman knew in his heart what turned out to be inevitable. "Change is coming to Pine Avenue, and we can either take an opportunity like this or let it happen piecemeal like it is now, which is something that is pretty daunting" he said.
"All these lots became available together because property values have been going down, down and down. The current lull in property values is drawing new capital to the Island, which can be both beneficial and a cause for concern, since the changes may or may not reflect the culture and character of our unique Island community," he said.
Openness and Community Input the Key to Pine Avenue Success
Coleman told commissioners he wanted the Pine Avenue restoration project to proceed with openness and community input, and that he would only go forward with the project if there was broad-based support within the community for his vision.
"I do not see this as an adversarial process," he said. "I don’t want to be involved in an adversarial process. I’m going to go away and go swimming and go to the beach if this becomes adversarial."
The reception from commissioners and from residents in the audience was warm and encouraging. "I think it’s a great idea," said Commission Chair John Quam. "My only concern is about parking. If you look at Bradenton Beach, they had a similar project and now they have a parking problem. We want to be careful to avoid that."
Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick was enthusiastic about the potential for the city. "This is a unique opportunity for the city that may never come again," she said. "It’s perfect timing – like all the constellations have lined up right, It’s perfect with the grant we have coming in 2010 to beautify the city."
That was more than a year ago. The Pine Avenue restoration vision was put forth and well received by city commissioners. Coleman said his next step was to continue putting together a group of investors so the project could move forward into the more detailed planning stages of development... and that it has.
Read more about the Anna Maria, Pine Avenue Restoration Project.
- Pine Avenue Restorations LLC is Formed - In what may ultimately turn out to be the biggest financial undertaking of his life - and possibly the most expensive - Anna Maria businessman Ed Chiles along with Pine Avenue resident Mike Coleman have formed an investment company to buy Pine Avenue properties and restore or develop them as two-story, retail-office-residential structures that would retain the “Old Florida” charm of the city.
- Chiles Takes On Pine Avenue - Ed Chiles is a name well known to Anna Maria Island residents. Being head of the ownership group of the Sandbar, BeachHouse and Mar Vista restaurants, Chiles is also a main player in the new and ambitious Pine Avenue development project.
- Support Builds for Pine Avenue Development Project - Supporters of the Pine Avenue restoration project are putting their money where their mouths are.
- Pine Avenue Restoration Moves One Step Closer To Becoming a Reality - It was reported that day, that developer Michael Coleman had closed the first targeted property needed for phase one of the Pine Avenue development. It was also reported that the city commission’s office decided to zone six lots on North Bay Boulevard ROR instead of commercial.
- Anna Maria's Pine Avenue Development Moving Forward Quickly - The site plan for the property at 315 Pine Ave being given to the Anna Maria city building department was yet another significant step in the ambitious renovation project.
- Pine Avenue Restoration Project Moves Forward With Second Site - The second site plan submitted for the Pine Avenue Restoration project was approved with several stipulations.
- Rosedale Cottage Hoped to be Part of the Pine Avenue Restoration - Just a few short weeks after the approval of the Pine Avenue restoration project's second site plan, Michael Coleman, one of the principals of the project, said he hopes Rosedale Cottage can be one of the centerpieces of the Pine Avenue Restoration Project.
- The Future of Anna Maria - Anna Maria resident, Jane Coleman, said the Anna Maria Island community's charm won her over, but when she noticed "For Sale" signs popping up and down along Pine Avenue, she worried that big development could move in.
- Preserving the Past While Planning for the Future - There is a group of local Anna Maria Island residents and developers working to preserve the past, as they plan for the future of Anna Maria Island community.
- National Magazine Features Pine Avenue Restoration Project - The Pine Avenue Restoration Project has been in the local Anna Maria Island news for well over a year now, but now its getting national media attention.
- Work on Anna Maria's Pine Avenue Project Begins With Demolition - Work officially began last week on the Pine Avenue Restoration Project when these structures at 315 and 317 Pine Avenue were demolished to make way for the project’s first building.
- Pine Avenue Restoration Project Under Construction - Construction was well under way early in October on the first two buildings approved in the Pine Avenue Restoration Project.
- Pine Avenue Developers Reveal Project Details to Local Anna Maria Realtors - Central to the 'Pine Avenue Restoration' vision is the strong conviction, of both residence and city officials alike, that two-story historic cottages best reflect the culture, heritage and nature of our Anna Maria.
- Anna Maria Island Accommodations Made Primary Rental Agency For Pine Avenue Rentals - Local Anna Maria Island vacation rentals and property management professionals from Anna Maria Island Accommodations Inc. have been selected as the 'primary rental agents' for the highly anticipated Pine Ave. Restoration Project.
Stay tuned to the Anna Maria Island Life blog for more up to date information about the Pine Avenue Restoration Project in Anna Maria.