What’s going on downtown, Q&A with Venice MainStreet

What’s going on downtown, Q&A with Venice MainStreet

There is a lot happening downtown! Each time you blink something has changed. Venice MainStreet is committed to the Historic Preservation and Economic Vitality of Venice’s heart; downtown. We work closely with a variety of community partners to achieve this goal. Because in this day and age it takes a community to support a historic downtown. We wanted to share with you what is happening downtown now and what you can expect in the future. The hopes are you will help us by doing your holiday shopping downtown and continue supporting our heart while we transition into the future.

The Downton Beautification is an 8.4-million-dollar project initiated by the voter referendum to improve our city’s infrastructure. In fact, the downtown infrastructure greatly needed improvement. Our drainage, pipes and roads were built decades ago to serve a different need and it was time for an upgrade before they failed. During this project sidewalks, benches, trash cans and much of our landscaping will be improved as well. A pedestrian fence, ADA curbing, in pavement lighted midblock crosswalk sign and six new stop signs will be added in an effort to make our downtown safer and more friendly to everyone.

Through all of this downtown is OPEN for business and we need you to continue supporting the shops and restaurants. They are small businesses run by our neighbors. These are people who belong to our community and employ our local families. Thank you to those who have made the commitment to support them through the beautification and we hope those who haven’t yet will consider doing so. When it comes to our historic downtown we are all in this together and we need your help to keep the magic alive. Here are some frequently asked questions about the project and their answers.

Q. Are the shops and restaurants OPEN during Beautification project?
A. The answer is YES! We are open for business and can’t wait to see you downtown.

Q. Where can I park?
A. All downtown parking lots are open and we have plenty of parking available. A helpful hint: Until Christmas just drive into downtown via Tampa Ave and enter Centennial Park from there. You will have no trouble. Find other parking options at www.visitvenicefl.org/island-parking

Q. Where can I find the most up-to-date information on the project:
A. The city’s website hosts this. Visit www.venicegov.com under “I Want to” and then “Find Out More About the Downtown Beautification Project”. Also, regular email updates are sent regarding project activities. You can request to be added to the project email distribution list by sending your email address to Jennifer Dorning, Project Public Information Officer at Jennifer.Dorning@atkinsglobal.com. You can also reach her by phone at 239-338-7723.

Q. What streets are being affected?
A. The three main Avenues of downtown; Venice, Miami and Tampa. As well as Nokomis Avenue and Nassau Street.

Q. What has been done so far?
A. All the underground infrastructure has been completed on W Venice Ave. This was some of the most time consuming work. As of the beginning of November the shade trees, the sidewalk on the south side and the eastbound of W Venice Ave are near completion. The sidewalks are under construction on the north side of W Venice Ave with a plan for completion before Thanksgiving. Paving is scheduled on eastbound W Venice Ave, Nokomis Ave and the 300 block of Miami Ave before Thanksgiving. Westbound W Venice Ave and the 100/200 block of Miami Ave will be nearing completion prior to Christmas. Pedestrian access for your holiday shopping is being maintained to reach shops and restaurants.

Q. Will traffic patterns and sidewalks widths be changed with this project?
A. No. All traffic patterns will remain the same with 4-way stop signs being added to Tampa/Nokomis, Nassau/Venice and Nokomis/Venice Avenues for added safety. The sidewalk widths remain the same with added decorative paver borders along the curb.

Q. When will the Beautification be completed?
A. Venice and Miami Avenues are scheduled to have the majority of the work completed by Christmas when the focus will turn to Tampa Avenue. Final completion of the project is currently scheduled for March 2019. Remember, this is an estimate and dependent on many factors including weather.

Q. Why was this project started?
A. Two years ago the residents of Venice voted to upgrade and repave 74 miles of roadway and rehabilitate the downtown infrastructure, which had cracking roads, sidewalks and failing drainage infrastructure. To supplement funding, $2 million in grants were obtained.

Q. Why did they remove many of the palm trees?
A. Seventy-four the palm trees were removed. Most were severely diseased or wind damaged. They were at risk of falling over and would need to be replaced soon regardless of the project.

Q. Will they replace the palm trees?
A. Yes, over 370 new trees will be planted along Venice, Miami and Tampa Avenues. The new plantings include palm trees and shade trees along the sidewalks, too.

Q. Why are the crosswalks changing recently?
A. New federal mandates require the city to maintain proper crosswalks. It’s called ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliance. Our new compliant crosswalks will be much safer for our community of all ages and activities. New pavers will also make them beautiful! The crosswalks will be completed as each avenue is completed.

Q. What will happen to the Holiday Parade and other events?
A. Regardless of the beautification project we have had many successful and fun events downtown through the summer and we will continue to do so. The Free Friday Night Concerts begin again on November 23rd and the Holiday Parade will be November 24th on Tampa Avenue.

Q. What can I do to help?
A. Shop downtown, dine downtown and tell your friends to do the same. If you have any questions call Venice MainStreet and we would be happy to point you in the right direction 941-484-6722. Check www.visitvenicefl.org for a calendar of happenings downtown.

Eyes Skyward

Eyes Skyward

by Marty Damon

The beachgoer in “Venice Girl,” Karen Chandler’s winning poster entry for the 31st Annual Venice Art Festival, might just be telling us we’ll all need shades for Venice’s bright future after the Downtown Beautification Project. Each year artists submit entries to the blind judging, hoping for their work to be chosen as that year’s signature image.

This year’s winner, Karen Chandler, is a professional artist who lives on the island of Venice and whose work can be enjoyed and purchased locally. She has been painting in oils over twenty-five years, and studied at the Stevenson Academy of Traditional Painting in New York, but her field of study has been anything but traditional. She went on to study design at the New York School of Visual Arts, and photography at the New York Institute of Technology, and she later included in her work acrylics and computer art.

Karen’s affiliations are as eclectic as her range of study. She is a member of the Society of Illustrators, providing illustrations for major publishers such as Simon and Schuster and Random House. She’s been associated with the NASA Space Art Program and Air Force Art Program since 1990, and her works hang at the Kennedy Space Center and the Pentagon. Her art is also in public and private collections across the country. Given her aeronautical connections, it’s especially appropriate that the figure in her winning entry, “Venice Girl,” stands in front of the dramatic Venice Beach Pavilion, with the wings of its concrete roof soaring skyward.

Prints, T-shirts, and tank tops of “Venice Girl” are all $20 each and are available for purchase at the Venice MainStreet office, 101 West Venice Avenue, Suite 23, Monday through Friday from 9–5pm. They’ll also be available at the Venice MainStreet booth at the 2019 downtown art and craft festivals. For more information call 941-484-6722

We’re Hiring! Marketing/Administrative Assistant

We’re Hiring! Marketing/Administrative Assistant

30 hours a week, Monday – Friday 9-3 (schedule negotiable)
Reports to CEO

Work for a fun, dynamic and innovative nonprofit! Venice MainStreet Inc is a 31-year-old nonprofit dedicated to preserving and promoting Historic Downtown Venice. Our small but mighty staff and 100 volunteers work to market the district, produce great events, attract visitors and invest in infrastructure above and beyond what the city can do.

Our assistant will fill two roles:
1. Marketing duties include managing social media accounts, managing VisitVeniceFL.org, creating newsletters, writing newspaper articles and press releases, creating and distributing fliers.
2. Assist the CEO and Events Coordinator by undertaking daily administrative tasks to ensure the functionality and coordination of the office, including answering phones, accounts receivables, mailings.

Proven experience managing large social media accounts
Good understanding of office management and marketing principles
Demonstrable ability to multi-task and adhere to deadlines
Well-organized with a customer-oriented approach
Exquisite communication and people skills
Able to work with people from many backgrounds
Experienced with Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite, Word Press, Quick Books, Microsoft Excel, Outlook

Pay: $12 – $14 /hour
With opportunity for commission

Email resume and cover letter to applications@venicemainstreet.com.

Call to Artist: 31st Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest

Call to Artist: 31st Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest

Official Poster Design Contest
November 3 & 4, 2018

Venice MainStreet, Inc. is holding a contest for the 31st Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest official poster design. The artist selected by the Design Committee will be awarded $500 for their design, along with a booth at the festival ($500 value, for a prize package worth $1,000). The winning design will be featured as the official poster, which will be showcased on merchandise* and in advertising**. The winner must be available for an unveiling event on the evening of Thursday, November 1, 2018.

• Original (unframed) artwork must be delivered to Collector’s Gallery and Framery (114 South Nokomis Avenue) by October 8, 2018.
• The winner must also submit a high-resolution editable, working digital file (for poster and merchandise production).
• Finished poster size will be 22” x 28” (original does not need to be the same size).
• Image must follow a theme of “Celebrating the arts of Venice.” (Copy that will be incorporated into the poster/merchandise will include “30th Annual Downtown Venice Art Fest”).

*the design will be showcased on other merchandise, along with the t-shirts.
**the design will be utilized in advertising done by Venice MainStreet, Inc. Any advertising done by Howard Alan Events may not include the design.

About the Downtown Venice Art Fest
The Downtown Venice Art Fest is one of the area’s largest and finest art shows. Tens of thousands of visitors kick-off season with this Howard Alan event that takes place along Venice Avenue in beautiful, Historic Downtown Venice. For more information, please call Venice MainStreet at (941)484-6722. Find out more about Howard Alan Events at www.artfestival.com.

Please submit artist Information:
City, State, Zip:_________________________________________________________
Entry Title:_____________________________________________________________

Release: If the design I have submitted to the 2018 (31st Annual) Downtown Venice Art Fest Poster Design Contest is selected as the winning entry, Venice MainStreet and Howard Alan Events have the exclusive right to reproduce, sell, and distribute copies of the work. The original can be sold by me (the artist). In exchange for reproduction rights and preparation of high-resolution digital file, I will receive $500 and a booth at the festival.

Celebrate Downtown Venice Day

Celebrate Downtown Venice Day

by Sandi Chance

The Venice Newcomers Club and Newcomers of Venice Alumni are hosting a “Celebrate Downtown Venice Day,” Saturday, August 11 to give back to our beautiful, historic downtown during the Downtown Beautification Project.

The event starts at noon with free 45-minute trolley tours of historic Venice Island. Harry Klinkhamer, Manager of Historical Resources for the City, will share his wealth of knowledge about the history. The trolley stop will be near the Venice MainStreet Kiosk in Centennial Park and will go until 3:00 p.m.

Those who attend should plan to bring their bicycles as Bicycles International will host two bike tours at 12:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Beginning at the Gazebo in Centennial Park, join them as they go on a leisurely ride to and from the jetties. They’re also providing a free “Fix a Flat” workshop held at the Gazebo at 1:30 p.m., instructing how to properly fix a flat tire.

Downtown shoppers will have the chance to get into festive spirit by visiting with a full-face-painting artist by the kiosk between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. There’s also a chance to relax with Afternoon High Tea, which will be held at Café 124, at 2:00 p.m., and Upper Crust, at 2:00 p.m. Many stores will join in the fun with specials, raffles and even Down Island Way Boutique’s almost famous rum punch.

Moving into the evening, downtown goers will be able to enjoy extended Happy Hours at Daiquiri Deck, TJ Carney’s, Made in Italy, Abby’s on Miami, and Ciao Gelato (Wine & Gelato Floats) from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Enjoy a variety of wines during the wine tasting events held at Café’ Longet, the Olive Grove Wine Bar, and the Zebra Piano Bar Lounge from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to support local businesses and have a great day shopping, learning and dining in Downtown Venice!

‘Tis the Season for…. Christmas in July!

‘Tis the Season for…. Christmas in July!

Venice MainStreet, Venice’s proud promoter of preservation and economic vitality for all things Downtown Venice, brings you Christmas in July 2018. Don’t miss the biggest two-day shopping spree of the year for bargains, discounts and ideas for Christmas and all your Holiday gift needs!

The stores and restaurants will celebrate from 10am to 5pm, Friday July 20 and Saturday July 21. Participating stores will offer entry forms for a competition to win one of three gift baskets totaling as much as $1,000 containing gifts and certificates donated by various downtown merchants. Shoppers can ride the free Christmas Trolley, sponsored by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Lueanne Wood, Venice Gondolier Sun and 92.1 CTQ, winding past the shops on the avenues downtown. Santa and Mrs. Claus will ride the trolley along with volunteers from the Venice-Nokomis Woman’s Club. You may be lucky enough to sit next to Santa and tell him want you want for Christmas. Santa and Mrs. Claus will stop for lunch at Bodrum 225 W. Miami Ave. on Friday at 12:30pm. Saturday, they will have lunch at Daiquiri Deck 300 W. Venice Ave. at 12:30pm. Saturday July 21st at 10am Santa will take a ride on Venice’s own 100’ Ladder Truck courtesy of the fine first responders of the Venice Fire Department, from the Venice Farmer’s Market, now on Avenues Des Parques in front of City Hall.

We are proud to announce the stores and restaurants that are participating in this iconic event: Always an Occasion Florist & Décor, Bodrum Mediterranean Restaurant, Bonnell’s Boutique & Winery, Café Venice, Captain’s Landing, Celebration Corner, Ciao Gelato, Cleopatra’s Bath & Body, Croissant & Company, DanaTyler, Dick’s Shoes, Down Island Way Boutique, DP Fitness and Wellness, Elephant’s Trunk Thrift Store, Eyes On You, Heitel Jewelers, Island Gift Nook, Island Life Hammocks, Lisa’s Classic Rose, Lueanne Wood PA Gulf Shores Realty, Made In Italy, Mothers Cupboard Spice Shoppe, Nana’s – A Children’s Shop, Needlefish Yarns of Venice, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Scarlet Macaw Resort wear, Seaside Chic Boutique, southeast salt, SunBug, T. J. Carney’s, Tangi & Jess, The Spice & Tea Exchange, The Tabletop Unique Home Accessories & Gifts, Venice In Vogue, Venice Stationers, Venice Olive Oil Company, Venice Wine and Coffee. A special thank you to Jacaranda Trace for the donation of a yummy Kilwin’s basket!

Downtown Reconstruction: We’re Still Open for Business!

Downtown Reconstruction: We’re Still Open for Business!

by Rod Nafziger, President Venice MainStreet

While the meaning of reconstruction is, “a thing that has been rebuilt after being damaged or destroyed,” heavy use certainly hasn’t destroyed our city, but it is time for renewal. Renewal is an opportunity to bring fresh life to something, to reinvigorate it and this is what will be witnessed by the entire community on the Avenues in our Historic Downtown District beginning in July.

Venice MainStreet is excited to experience this beautification transformation and we know you will be, too. Get out this summer and share the beautification with our businesses as they will be operating as normal during the reconstruction. Don’t worry, all the businesses will be accessible during construction, we will have plenty of parking for you as none of the large public lots will be affected and full road closures will only happen after 10pm.

Through the generous support of the Gulf Coast Foundation and the Venice Gondolier Sun, Venice MainStreet is proud to announce a “Summer of Love.” Residents and visitors alike will be able to enjoy Venice’s renaissance first-hand. With Gulf Coast Foundation’s commitment to Venice MainStreet, Venice businesses will be able to participate in many of our promotions with no additional constraints to their marketing budgets. Venice MainStreet has instituted a robust “Summer of Love” marketing campaign.

We strongly encourage the community to support our local businesses and partake in the summer’s entertainment. Join us downtown on July 20th & 21st for the popular annual Christmas in July festivities. Stroll the holiday decorated avenues while you shop and dine. You may even sit next to Santa on the Trolley!

Enjoy a Wine Walk on August 16th and Barstool Open, August 25th, where your team can miniature golf around downtown. Followed by the September Craft Fair, Shoptember and the 3rd annual Venice Beach Party. Sip local brews at the Oktoberfest on the 4th of October. The 31st Annual November Art Festival, will surely be the perfect way to celebrate the beautification of Downtown Venice.

Venice MainStreet will be sharing work areas, progress and pictures of our renewed Avenues through the whole process. Like Venice MainStreet on Facebook. Be added to our email list to receive the Venice MainStreet weekly newsletter. Visit our revamped, mobile friendly website for easy access to key information at www.visitvenicefl.org.

The Icing on the Cake: VABI by Maria Baskin

The Icing on the Cake: VABI by Maria Baskin

“What’s living in Venice like for you?” I recently asked a group of friends. “Life is easier here,” one said as the others nodded in agreement. “But what makes it special?” l, “A sense of community. I feel I belong to a real town that cares how it develops, has history and appreciates the arts. I especially love what they’ve done with downtown Venice?” “That’s VABI,” I immediately responded. “VABI?” they asked.

VABI stands for Venice Area Beautification, Inc. a non-profit organization located west of the North Bridge. More than 150 volunteers, with the exception of one administrative assistant, are responsible for the selection, planting, and maintenance of those large potted plants, hanging baskets and the stone fountains overflowing with flowers all along W. Venice Avenue. The green shrubs and bushes on W. Venice are maintained by the Keep Venice Beautiful committee who is under the auspices of VABI. Keep your eyes out for the sculptures sprinkled around town in unexpected places. My favorite is still the one on the corner of W. Venice and Nokomis Avenues called “Maria’s Garden.”

”VABI is committed to making the Venice area a more beautiful place to live, work and play.” says Lynn Moseley, VP and chair of the Public Art Committee. VABI’s vision is to help build community in the greater Venice area by focusing on timeless projects that provide places to walk or sit and connect with nature. People can visit VABI’s latest beautification project up-lighting the banyan trees at Heritage Park along W. Venice Avenue. Create your own park adventure; pick up a map at the VABI office located at 257 N. Tamiami Trail for all 39 Venice parks.

In fact, the beautification work that VABI does is not just limited to downtown or the parks. In 2005 VABI put out a call to local artists to create murals in specific areas of Venice similar to the mural on the rear of the Gondolier building and at Venice Theatre. Another recent example is the Founders Walkway Mural leading from W. Venice to Miami Avenue. It is a lush green wooded painting by Joseph Barron called “Healing – The Enchanted Garden.”

VABI’s magic extends even beyond the island borders. Have you ever been to the Venetian Waterway Park that runs along both sides of the Intracoastal Waterway? It’s a VABI project and a must see. New park creations are in the works right at this very moment! The Ribbons Project is an ongoing effort to connect the bike trails from city of North Port to the city of Sarasota.

One of VABI’s main fundraising events each year is hosting a Christmas Boat Bash with a front row seat to view the Christmas Boat Parade. Also, at Christmas time VABI does a great job of getting residents and businesses in the spirit by allowing locals to adopt a tree at the Arboretum for free. It makes the traditional lighting of the tree at the Arboretum a spectacular event. But don’t wait for Christmas, visit the Arboretum now where VABI currently has four sculptures on display.

All this is made possible by the generous donations of our community. Please visit the VABI website at www.vabi.org, for donor possibilities and/or volunteer opportunities. Having an organization like VABI keeping our city beautiful – is like the icing on the cake we call paradise.

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