In 1999, the Waterfronts Vilano Team was created under the umbrella of the North Shores Improvement Association. The team was successful in their bid for Vilano to be designated by the State of Florida as a "Waterfronts Florida Community".
NSIA's Visioning document created in 1998 and the Waterfronts Florida Community Designation, with funding through the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administered by the Florida Department of Community Affairs, have been the basis for the revitalization initiatives in this area. The vision of the Waterfronts Vilano Team is for the area to become a sustainable, pedestrian-friendly waterfront community with a town center. The creation of a mixed-use Town Center along Vilano Road will provide exploration opportunities for visitors on foot as well as providing goods and services for residents.
Vilano Beach was designated by the Florida Department of State as a Florida Main Street community in 2003. This program provides assistance with Design, Economic Restructuring, Organization, and Business Promotion and Community Promotion through events planning. Florida Main Street is part of a National Main Street Program under the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a network with 50 other Florida Main Street Communities.
The Waterfronts Vilano Team and the Town Center Main Street Group have worked diligently to acquire grant funding and private donations to aid in their efforts.
Following are just a few of their accomplishments From 1999 to 2003:
- Gateway signage and landscaping of the entrance to Vilano Town Center, 1999-2000
- Stormwater Management Plan -- grant from St. Johns River Water Management District, 1999
- Development/Approval of the North Coastal Corridor Zoning Overlay District established with a Design Review Board in place for mixed-use zoning for Town Center, commercial and multi-family construction which defines the desired community characteristics, and a Design Guidelines Brochure completed
- Growth Management Award by 1000 Friends of Florida for Visioning, 2000
- Construction of Nature Greenway Boardwalk, linking the residential area to the north with the Town Center to the south. Florida Inland Navigation District grant, 2001. Grand Opening was held in 2002.
- Town Center & Streetscape Master Plan completed with Waterfronts Florida technical assistance
- Application/receipt of a grant to build two waterfront pavilions at the pier and the beach
- Design and Permitting of two waterfront pavilions at the pier and the beach
- Vilano Pier Pavilion constructed with Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) and Florida Coastal Management Program grants, 2001-2002
- Opening and dedication of the Beach and Fishing Pier Pavillions
- Council for a Sustainable Florida Award, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, presented by Governor Bush and his Cabinet, 2002.
- Northeast Florida Planning and Zoning Association Master Design Planning Award, 2002
- Designated by the Board of County Commissioners as a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) with Tax Increment Financing to aid in the funding of projects for Town Center, Community Center & Surfside Park, 2002.
Since Becoming A Florida Main Street Community in 2003:
- New Comprehensive Plan land use designation – Town Center Mixed Use Development – to create a downtown with a combination of residential, commercial, recreational and community uses throughout the Town Center boundaries, 2004
- Waterfronts Business Opportunity Brochure, with Waterfronts Florida assistance
- Northeast Florida Planning and Zoning Association Design Award, 2005
- Marketing Analysis Study by Gibbs Planning Group, 2005
- Vilano Beach Town Center Overlay Code updated with architectural guidelines and a new zoning category, 2006
- Construction of Beach Pavilion with Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) Grant, 2006
- Groundbreaking Ceremony for construction of Town Center Streetscape & Infrastructure Project, 2006
- Business Recruitment Brochure and Retail Recruitment Plan from a Waterfronts Florida Program grant and the Gibbs Marketing Study updated through the Florida Coastal Management Program and Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 2007
- Purchase of Fiddler’s Green oceanfront property for a multi-use community center building with income potential and a Vilano Beach Oceanfront Park with a Florida Forever Florida Communities Trust Grant for $4.1 million of a $5.5 million purchase price, 2007
- A life size pod of 3 dolphins sculpture 27 feet across erected 20 feet over the Vilano Fishing Pier, 2007
- Party on the Pier with live music and local restaurants, November 2007
- Gateway and Bridge Landscaping planted by Florida Department of Transportation, 2008
- Merit Award for Outstanding Public Improvement from Florida Main Street, 2008
- “Spruce Up” Forum and “Land Development Code” Forum held to help business and property owners improve their street front image and prepare for redevelopment.
- Downtown Redevelopment Director of Delray Beach conducted a three day workshop to help plan for future events and business recruitment, 2008
- Fourth of July Main Street Parade held, 2008
- Haley’s Motor Court sign restored and installed on Main Street as public art, 2008
- Completion of Streetscape & Infrastructure Project, October 2008
- New playground and dog park installed at North Shores Park next to North Shores Community Center, 2009
- Sheriff’s Stop Station installed in former Volunteer Fire House next to North Shores Community Center, September 2009
- Memoral Patio constructed with historic bricks from old walkway and memorial tree dedicated at North Shores Community Center, October 2009
- Grant for Engineering and Permitting of a floating dock on the south side of the fishing pier to serve for short term tie up and water taxi service, as well as access to the grocery store by visiting yachtsmen on the Intracoastal Waterway received from Florida Inland Navigation District and St. Augustine Port & Waterway Authority with match from North Shores Improvement Association Vilano Beach Main Street, 2009
- Grocery Store Site Plans for 46,663 total retail square feet in 3 buildings with 4 sided architecture presented for approval by Land Design South and Atlantic Land Realty of West Palm Beach, November 2009.
- Sunday Farmer’s Market held every Sunday, 2009- May 30,2010 in a parking lot available because of vacant business there. Terminated because space no longer available. Began planning for a regularly held substitute Sunset Celebration on the Pier as soon as new adjacent businesses established.
- Restoration by community fund raising of an historic 9 foot tall concrete “Bluebird of Happiness” icon originally used as advertising for orange juice sales on the roadway and then for a marriage business, with “Happiness is Vilano Beach” painted on its tummy, 2010.
- Non-zoning variances approved for Grocery development by County Commissioners, January 2010.
- North Shores Community Center hosts U.S. Census Taking Training Program, February 2010.
- Blighted residences and deteriorated buildings demolished on two Town Center properties, February-March 2010.
- New Marina Docks for Inlet Marina under new ownership approved by Design Review Board and County, July 2010.
- Eagle Scout Project provides new trash receptacles for Vilano Boat Ramp and Beach Pavilion Park, July 2010.
- Vilano Beach Main Street hosts group of 20 from St. Cloud Main Street to show off accomplishments, September 2010.
- Host for Waterfronts Florida Quarterly Meeting, October 2010.
- Renovation approved for Historic Ocean Blue Motel on the oceanfront under new ownership and renamed St. Augustine Beach House by Design Review Board, November 2010.
- Industrial Development Authority provides $5 million in loan guarantees and interest rate incentives for Publix construction project, December 2010.
- Project to remove invasive species from Vilano Beach area – Brazilian Pepper and Australian Pines – by a County partnership with Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, a $5 million National Department of Environmental Protection education and research facility located 6 miles north of the Vilano Bridge, 2011.
- Special visit to our Florida Main Street Community by Florida Secretary of State, December 2010 helping to celebrate Vilano Beach as Florida Main Street Community of the month.
- Formal Groundbreaking Celebration for Publix project, January 12, 2011.
- Grant by County Engineering Department at the East end of the Vilano Bridge to remove ugly concrete pylons and reconstruct traffic light system at end of bridge, January 2011
- Community Redevelopment successes featured in Florida Trend Magazine, May 2011.
- Web site VilanoBeachFL.com undergoing reconstruction with assistance from Publix developer, 2011.
- Grant submitted and approved for the construction of the floating dock at the Vilano fishing pier to Florida Inland Navigation District and St. Augustine Port & Waterway Authority. Completion date May 2012.
- Consideration for 2011 Florida Redevelopment Association award for Downtown Improvement and Beautification Projects. Expect to hear in September 2011.
- Opening of anchor grocery store (Publix Supermarket) in Town Center January 12, 2012 and seven new businesses commenced within six months.
- Refreshed and updated wayfinding signs for walkable experience.
- Redesigned Vilano Beach website.
- Dedicated new Public Docks in June 2012 and commenced signature event: Sunset Celebration.
It's time to get down to business. The next step in Vilano's future is economic development for the business community. Plans are underway for Vilano's bright future as a place where locals convene to shop and dine, and a unique tourist destination.
Please review our Vilano Beach Town Center Guidelines (January 2007) for future planning.
The Vilano Beach Citizen Government Partnership wishes to thank the following for their contributions to our efforts:
St. Johns County - Board of County Commissioners, Growth Management and Planning, Parks and Recreation, and Public Works
State of Florida - Department of Community Affairs, 1000 Friends of Florida, and Waterfronts Florida, Department of State and Department of Environmental Protection
Federal - NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration), U.S Representative John Mica
Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) and the 20 students who developed and designed alternatives for the proposed Town Center
St. Johns River Water Management
The many individuals and businesses who have donated time, money and ideas