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.