The Port District project will place the “port” in Port St. Lucie

I try not to pay much attention to internet snark. If I did, I imagine I’d spend a good chunk of every workday crying in a corner somewhere.

However, even before typing the first word of this column on Port Saint Lucieplans to develop The harbor areaI knew what to expect.

After this column is published, there will be at least one commentator, somewhere in the vast internet universe, who will laugh at all of this. I’ll probably have a talk about how Port St. Lucie officials have been talking for years about building the neighborhood, but it never happened.

Well, as they say in the investment game, Past performance does not represent future results.

The harbor district is happening. City officials held a inauguration ceremony last week to officially launch the construction of a project that has lasted for years.

We live in a country where people are free to be as jaded and cynical as they want. But if you seriously think the Port District plans won’t come to fruition at this point, you just haven’t been paying attention.

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As they tend to do, city leaders conducted an elaborate planning process to get citizen input on what amenities local residents would like to see for the 1.5-mile area along the Holy River. -Lucy near the Port Saint Lucie Botanical Gardens.

The results are quite impressive.

When this project is complete, the site will include the Pioneer Park playground, improved park infrastructure, parking, restrooms, event lawn, water stage and boardwalk connections, ramp canoe/kayak launch, mountain trails, as well as a site for a waterfront. restaurant.

Still not impressed? There is more.

Plans also include the restoration of the Peacock Lodge and Peacock House, historic buildings that predate Port St. Lucie’s incorporation as a city.

The Peacock family was involved in citrus farming and cattle ranching in the area long before General Development Corp. set a goal of building a massive residential community in the late 1950s. This community was incorporated as Port St. Lucie in 1961.

The city does not really have its own portalthough the property gurus selling the homes there thought the inclusion of the word ‘harbour’ would make the development more marketable.

Jennifer Davis, project manager for the Port St. Lucie Community Redevelopment Agency, inspects the kitchen floor of the Peacock Lodge.  The lodge will be the future headquarters of the Port St. Lucie Historical Society and a venue for special events.

Jennifer Davis, project manager for the town’s community redevelopment area, said the Peacock family used the lodge, located east of Glades Cutoff Road, as a hunting outpost.

The Peacock House was originally built west of Fort Pierce in 1917, then later moved to the site of the lodge.

In 2018, both buildings were moved to their current location, just southwest of the intersection of Port St. Lucie and Westmoreland Boulevards.

New World Builders, a DeLand-based company specializing in work on historic buildings, is overseeing what amounts to a full restoration of the lodge.

“Every inch of this building is affected,” Davis said during a recent site visit.

Work on the Peacock Lodge began several weeks before the groundbreaking. Once completed, part of the building will serve as offices for the Port St. Lucie Historical Societywhich currently has no home base.

The lodge will also have a small gift shop and meeting space for special events.

Davis said there are no firm plans for how the Peacock House will be used after it undergoes restoration work, although it could be a static historic display.

“Port St. Lucie isn’t that old, so we take every opportunity to embrace the area’s history,” Davis said. “Between these two (buildings), we have a unique opportunity to tell the story of the region.”

The Riverwalk along the St. Lucie River in Port St. Lucie is part of the Port District currently in the planning phase in 2022.

If you’re not a history buff, that’s okay.

The harbor area will offer a little something for everyone. Even the playground will be much more elaborate than your standard neighborhood jungle gym, including a water play area with a river schooner and a 43-foot-long faux alligator.

And hopefully, sooner rather than later, there will be a restaurant, or even several restaurants, offering waterfront dining in the city.

If you look at an aerial view of Port St. Lucie, the river is one of the most spectacular and beautiful features. However, most shoreline land within the city limits is either private or set aside as conservation property.

The Port District will change that by making the river more accessible to all residents.

Port St. Lucie officials are proud of this project, as they should be.

“The Port District will provide a world-class cultural destination where our citizens and visitors can connect with the environment, local history and enjoy recreation and entertainment all in one place,” said Jolien Caraballo, City Councilor of Port St. Lucie, whose district includes the area. “Each element was designed with the vision of providing the ‘WOW’ factor for this extraordinary public space.”

TCPalm Columnist Blake Fontenay

So go ahead, keep laughing and call it a mess if you must. But the port district is happening.

And Port St. Lucie, a huge city with relatively few public gathering places, will be better off.

Some day soon, I expect to toast the opponents of the project at this restaurant to be named later.

This column reflects the opinion of Blake Fontenay. Contact him by email at blake.fontenay@tcpalm.com or at 772-232-5424.

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