Space Coast: 2019 and Beyond A look at what is developing in Brevard County
As the Space Coast turns to a fresh calendar page for 2019, there’s a lot of positive change for our cities and residents. Multiple countywide projects — from improved tourism draws to sustainability initiatives — accent what is already known about Brevard County: it’s a place of progress.
Here are some developments that will highlight 2019.
COCOA BEACH: Creating a Downtown Hub
Cocoa Beach has always been known as a tourist mecca, both for visitors and for those who want to spend a day close to home with a staycation feel. Creating a downtown space that accommodates both out-of-towners and locals takes constant innovation, both from business owners and the city itself, according to Melissa Byron, director of economic development for Cocoa Beach.
A new 241-space parking garage is under construction at 25 South Orlando Ave., built on the site of the former downtown fire station. Set to open by the start of summer, the modern take on downtown parking will feature public shower and bathroom access, charging stations for electric cars and even spaces for golf carts. Use of the parking garage will be free for anyone with a Cocoa Beach parking permit. All others will pay $2.50, making it an affordable option for frequenting nearby businesses and the beach.
Byron says that construction of the $5.3 million parking garage is being funded through a bond taken out by the Cocoa Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, so the project will not cost taxpayers a thing.
“We know that this parking garage and its amenities will offer a boost of foot traffic to our local businesses and also make our downtown area even more accessible,” Byron said.
As far as other downtown developments, some new businesses that have recently opened their doors in Cocoa Beach include LUNA Food & Wine from established Cocoa Beach Chef Luca Filadi, formerly of Mango Tree; Flavour Kitchen & Wine Bar; and Napa Beach Bubbles Bar.
For newer and older businesses, Byron says that the city is pushing for greater sustainability through increased recycling and use of paper straws, as opposed to plastic.
“By the end of 2019, we want to be rid of styrofoam and plastic straws. Many businesses have already taken that initiative and we’ve also accomplished it at the Cocoa Beach Country Club,” Byron said.
Looking ahead to more excitement in 2019, Byron said that the city is gearing up for a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing. A Corvette and astronaut parade is planned for July 13 in the downtown area, with a street festival and a performance by the Alan Parsons Project.
“We have organizations all over the county coming together to make this celebration a big one because it truly is a reflection of Brevard accomplishments,” Byron said.
WEST MELBOURNE: Building a Dream
In September, the City of West Melbourne celebrated completion of improvements to its already existing West Melbourne Community Park, formerly known as Max K. Rodes Park at 3000 Minton Road. The public park now features a 41,100 square-foot skate park that is open seven days per week, a splash pad, an amphitheater with a Bermuda grass performance lawn, a chess plaza, five lighted pavilions and free public WiFi.
Still under construction is the 40-seat Promise Cafe & Bakery, which will operate as a consumer-facing business on the property and is expected to open by early spring.
The cafe is one of 10 planned business enterprises from Promise in Brevard, an organization that provides opportunities for adults living with intellectual disabilities. At its opening, the cafe will have 10 local adults who are part of the program, referred to as “Promisers” by the organization, on the payroll, with more jobs added as customer interest grows. Food will be made from scratch on site, with a walk-up ice cream window and a coffee bar. Several Promisers are undergoing training to become certified baristas.
“The Promise Cafe & Bakery will have its biggest impact on the local community by providing employment opportunities for our Promise residents with special needs, offering them both a purpose and a paycheck,” said Betsy Farmer, co-founder of Promise in Brevard, whose son Luke, 33, is a Promiser. “For many of our residents, this is something they have always dreamed of. The Promise Cafe & Bakery has the potential to have an even larger impact as it was designed so that it could be replicated throughout the nation and even the world."
The cafe is being constructed using universal design principles to be accessible to all, an important outreach component of the city’s overall public park concept. Housed within West Melbourne Community Park is the Space Coast Field of Dreams, an all-accessible sports complex that features a playground, baseball field, basketball court and other active amenities designed for people of all abilities.
PALM BAY: More Growth, More Sustainability
In June, development began for a $30 million Palm Bay Executive Park, located near Bass Pro Shops just off Palm Bay Road. When completed, the area will feature a Hyatt Place hotel, a Home2 Suites by Hilton, three retail buildings and two restaurants. When complete, Palm Bay Executive Park will feature 71,000 square feet of commercial space. The project is tentatively planned to be completed in early 2020.
Slated for completion in late 2019, the city’s Northshore Project will cost $37.3 million and include 320 luxury apartments at the north end of Robert J. Conlan Boulevard, along the U.S. 1 corridor. The project will feature apartment amenities such as outdoor fitness equipment, electric vehicle charging, pool and patio space and a dog park. The second phase of this project, known as Aqua Retail Shoppes, will feature the development of over 60,000 square feet of retail space, restaurants and local grocers.
“We are working toward giving residents what they need, right here within Palm Bay, and also continuing to make it a top spot for people outside the city to visit,” said Keely Leggett, community information officer for the City of Palm Bay.
Looking beyond the coming year, the City of Palm Bay has ambitious plans through its Bayfront Community Redevelopment Agency to revamp the Bayfront district to provide more opportunities for recreation, business, tourism and general city amenities to residents and visitors. The priorities of the Bayfront 2024 plan are to establish a downtown area and to make a public waterfront accessible.
To that end, Pelican Harbor Marina is being planned for redevelopment. While no suitable partner has been hired yet, Bayfront Community Redevelopment District Administrator James Marshal says that “ideally, this site will become a thriving mixed-use development offering waterfront amenities that can include a restaurant, entertainment, retail, residential units, a marina, and a public waterfront promenade.”
MELBOURNE: Evolving Downtown
A series of development decisions in 2018 will pave the way for a new look and feel for the City of Melbourne in the new year. In November, voters approved a $35 million bond referendum for a new police station that will consolidate law enforcement operations now split between two buildings. Design and bidding is expected to be complete by October, with the new facility planned to open in early 2021. The new site for the police headquarters is planned for the northeast corner of Airport and NASA boulevards. The city will trade the current police station property on Apollo Boulevard for the new site, and will sell the Babcock Street property once employees have moved to the new location.
“This new facility will move us into the future. Our residents deserve a police station that reflects their investment and commitment to the department,” said Melbourne Police Chief David Gillespie.
Another modernization is already rising in Melbourne’s downtown area. In June, ground broke for the Highline Urban Apartment project at 633 E. New Haven Ave., an eight-story mixed-use building that is the first of its kind in the area, according to City of Melbourne public information officer Cheryl Mall.
The building is expected to be completed in early 2020 and will feature restaurant, retail and other commercial tenants. The upper levels of the development will house 171 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments with amenities like 9-foot ceilings and large windows. National Green Multifamily Building standards are included in design plans.
Perhaps the best part for new residents, however, will be the quality of life that accompanies the building.
“People will be able to walk to some of their favorite stores and restaurants, and further enjoy our downtown area,” Mall said.
Another boon to the walk and shop culture of downtown Melbourne is a planned 11-story, 156-room boutique hotel to be built at Strawbridge Avenue and Waverly Place, near Meg O’Malley’s. The Hilton-owned Tapestry Collection hotel is expected to open in 2020.
“City Council and staff have been actively working to induce large scale private developments that will bring permanent residents, visitors and employees into Downtown Melbourne. These developments were only possible because of the city’s willingness to partner with private sector developers,” said Mayor Kathy Meehan.
“We anticipate that these developments will be catalytic in creating a market for mixed-use dense development that would not otherwise exist in Downtown.”
SATELLITE BEACH: Continued Sustainability
In Satellite Beach, the new year will bring an array of ongoing sustainability projects that meet the specifications of a citywide sustainability plan that was set in motion in 2016. The plan lists 20 initiatives to be completed, or underway, by 2022.
A financial self-sufficient community garden is already in place at Desoto Park where residents can rent garden plots for a year to grow their own produce, flowers and other plants. In September, Satellite Beach City Hall switched over completely to solar power.
A solar panel canopy project in conjunction with Florida Power and Light recently wrapped up at Pelican Beach Park. The canopy consists of 90 solar panels placed on seven columns and can sustain wind speeds of 150 mph. The canopy was built at no cost to the city through FPL’s SolarNow program, and the panels will generate an expected 25 kilowatts of electricity per day.
“Our Sustainability Action Plan incorporates environmentally conscious initiatives that mitigate emissions, promote better public health and save taxpayers dollars,” Nicholas Sanzone, environmental programs coordinator, said.
TITUSVILLE: Conservation Education
A new Community Conservation Education Center is being built in Titusville at Merritt Island National Refuge that will replace the current, 30-year-old structure that has structural and mechanical issues. The goal of the new center is greater public accessibility and to leave behind a “smaller footprint,” according to Kimberly King-Wrenn of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The current structure sees around 80,000 visitors per year, but demand for environmental programs from schools and other local groups is “two to three times higher” than the older structure can accommodate, King-Wrenn said.
The new 8,100 square-foot center will include a large exhibit area, a meeting room, staff offices, retail space for Refuge Friends, and a children’s nature-based play area.
“We want this to be a comfortable place for people to learn and interact with the environment,” King-Wrenn said.