Patch Podium: Heather Gracy on Spurring Development
Each of the commission candidates took a moment on the Patch Podium to explain what can be done to spur development in Dunedin.
This week, we asked the candidates:
- In reference to some of the stalled developments in the city (i.e., 570 Edgewater, The Gateway Project, and Fenway), what could be done to lure and spur development in Dunedin, should you be elected?
Heather Gracy responds:
It’s true that much of what drives development is market related. Until our economy reaches a recovery point, financing for development will continue to be tight. We see this very fact evident in the vacant Gateway tract. Recent and preliminary discussions from the developer around this project suggest there could be a new and different vision for the property, one that includes a housing element among other mixed retail business. In order to for the project to live up to its name as the “Gateway,” it’s important to me that it’s done right. Once it’s given away, you can’t get it back; a phrase of which I’m often reminded when discussing developments. If I am elected, I will remain open to and welcome discussion so that the project meets the community’s vision by extending Main Street to the East and increasing Dunedin’s housing inventory.
When I was downtown this past weekend, enjoying the many events and activities, it wasn’t hard to see that parking is in short supply. I would give consideration to a highly efficient parking garage that encompasses ground floor retail for a mixed use that will serve visitors to the downtown and the Pinellas Trail, in addition to the community’s special events.
The state of Fenway property is unfortunate. Although I’m no expert I do think the property, once in the hands of a stable owner, could be a terrific destination location for Dunedin. Development at this location, when presented by a solid investor or group with site plans that show compatibility for the community, could be an economic gain for Dunedin. As a city commissioner I would actively listen to the investors, as well as the surrounding neighbors, who will be impacted by any changes made to the property.
Knowing the Fenway’s proximity to the downtown and north to Edgewater Linear Park and the Marina, connectivity should play a large role in keeping everyone safe. Perhaps exploring and building on a connectivity path that surrounds the Fenway property and safely connects it to these popular features around it would attract redevelopment efforts for this landmark site in Dunedin.
Since there are new owners for the property at 570 Edgewater, I believe that keeping an open and transparent dialogue when needed is paramount to achieving balance for this project’s future development.
Dunedin has recently overcome some of the challenges it once faced with development. The newly revised land development codes in Dunedin, Form-Based Codes, create a more attractive environment for new and adaptive reuse developments. In order to lure and spur development, I will support policies and a welcoming direction that keeps development smart and compatible with Dunedin’s coastal and charming character.
See also, Commissioner David Carson's response.