Downtown Art Overlay District Talks Continue
City commissioners revisited a years-old idea for adopting a downtown overlay zoning district during a Community Redevelopment Agency meeting Thursday. Potential zoning changes would allow artists to live and work along north Douglas Avenue.
Dunedin doesn't yet have an downtown arts district, but that didn't stop city commissioners from discussing plans for its potential entryway at Thursday's public Community Redevelopment Agency meeting.
Some officials suggested an archway and others envisioned a brick welcome sign.
City Manager Rob DiSpirito said sometime next year the city may begin discussing a conceptual plan for an art overlay district downtown, which has long been slated for the stretch of north Douglas Avenue between Skinner Boulevard and Main Street, already home to the Institute for Creative Arts, Dunedin Woodwright and Dunedin Brewery.
Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski said she brought up discussion about the archway feature Thursday to spark discussion about declaring an art overlay district downtown.
The idea has always been to provide an incentive for artists and crafts people to live and work downtown, she said. For years, discussion has centered on creating an artistic enclave to make it easier for artists to work and live downtown.
Zoning regulations must be changed to allow artists and crafters to live and work at foundries, studios and galleries within the downtown business district. An overlay district would add another element to attract visitors downtown, she said.
“I just wanted to get talk about the arts district started again,” she said after the CRA meeting. "Bringing up the entrance feature for the proposed district is a way to spark discussion," she added. An arch, similar to one already budgeted for the entrance to Broadway at Edgewater Drive, would be a nice way to identify the art district at Douglas and Skinner; however, if the consensus of the people is for a brick feature I could support that, she said.
Bob Ironsmith, Community Redevelopment Agency director, said the city is still soliciting comments about the art district entrance feature. The city pledged $25,000 toward an archway at Broadway, with merchants ready to raise the rest of the funds.
But an arch at Douglas would be more expensive, because the road is wider and there are no utility poles to attach an arch, he said.
Ironsmith said the city is replacing the waterline along north Douglas, between Main Street and Skinner, in anticipation of future growth. Once infrastructure is in place it will be a lot easier to provide another amenities to support revitalization, he added.
Mayor Dave Eggers said he supports establishing an art overlay district, “but it has to have teeth in it to provide incentives for artists to move into the district. Just declaring overlay district is not enough.”
DiSpirito said before it comes before the Planning Board and City Commission, sometime next year, the city would hold a series of public workshops to solicit public comments about the district, get input from advisory boards and hold town meetings to discuss zoning and boundaries.
It might include the area further to the north near Huntley Avenue (toward Jolli Mons) or even south of Main Street on Douglas.