New options possibly available for commercial waterfront property in St. Augustine

Right now, most waterfront properties in the city's oldest city are limited in what they can do. But a plan is underway to change that.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The City of St. Augustine is considering creating a new zoning category to keep working waterfronts, well, working. 

Geoffrey Grider is the founder of Mudflower Media. He creates websites and said, "we’re going to do pod casting. We’re doing to do YouTube videos."

It’s not the kind of business you’d expect to find at a marina, but it's certainly at one. 

"Look at what I’m looking at," he said outside his office. "I’m looking at boats and smelling the water."

His office and studio are at the San Sebastian Marina on Riberia Street. His desk is just a few parking spaces away from sailboats and from the popular Crave Food Truck.

"You have a bunch of businesses here, going down to the water... It’s a vibrant community," Grider described the area.

His is the kind of business that some commercial waterfront property owners in St. Augustine would like to have on site.

Right now, city zoning described as marine use districts "only allows for water dependent uses: fishing and boat building,"  explained David Birchim, St. Augustine’s Building and Planning Director. He said those are dying industries.

He explained the City wants to maintain the commercial waterfronts as active, working waterfronts.

"We don’t want to lose all of our commercial waterfronts to condos," Birchim noted.

So, the St. Augustine City Commission is considering creating a new zoning category. Birchim said it would allow commercial waterfront property owners who maintained 55 percent of their property as a working waterfront (marinas for example), to add other kinds of businesses to the rest of their property like a hotel or offices or art galleries.

The owner of the San Sebastian Marina told First Coast News that he’d like to ramp-up business at his property by building overnight cottages on site.

He also said businesses such as Mudflower Media can currently be onsite because they have the potential to help marine clients. 

Grider said if the City allows commercial waterfront property owners more flexibility with how they can use their land, it could help revive struggling areas of town.

"If you love this town, you’d have to give more flexibility to this (kind of) property," he said.

The St. Augustine City Commission will hear public input about creating this new marine use zoning category before taking a vote on it.

 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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