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Vilano Beach Main Street Designated Florida Main Street Program of the Month

seal of florida

Florida Department of State
Dawn K. Roberts
Secretary of State

For Immediate Release
December 03, 2010

Joan Jefferson

Vilano Beach Main Street Designated Florida Main Street Program of the Month

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Interim Secretary of State Dawn K. Roberts announced today that Vilano Beach Main Street has been designated the Florida Main Street Program of the Month for December 2010. Selection for this award is based on a record of active participation in the Florida Main Street Program.

“The successful longevity and impact of Vilano Beach Main Street reinforces the importance of downtown revitalization,” said Secretary Roberts. “It is a testament to a promising future for local communities.”

Geographically, visiting land planners and economists have compared Vilano Beach to Cape Cod, because of its small town waterfront feel and location. Vilano Beach’s main street, Vilano Road, has two waterfronts – the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. 

In the 1920s, a New York developer platted the Vilano Beach residential and beachfront downtown with a hundred-foot right-of-way and built a grand oceanfront dance hall. When the development took a downturn in 1929, the downtown area was never built, and the dance hall was claimed by storms in 1938 and 1939. During the 1950s era of automobile travel, Vilano Beach served as a beachside stopping place for tourists driving to St. Augustine.  Vilano still has classic old Florida motels and restaurants within walking distance of the beach.  The area continues to capture this special time period in Florida history.
In 1995, the new Vilano Bridge opened, bypassing the community’s former commercial center.  In a short time only a few existing businesses continued to struggle. With the exception of an upscale hotel completed in September 2001, most existing buildings are from the late 1940s and 1950s.  The buildings were ‘mom and pop’ motels and restaurants, a fish camp, a single landing dock for boat sales and a bait-and-tackle shop on the Intracoastal Waterway. 

In the late 1990s, Vilano Beach adopted a major long range goal to maintain the small beach town feel and to create a vibrant and sustainable commercial town center that met residents’ desires. The project was to be a one-of-a-kind waterfront destination based on new urbanist design that would celebrate the natural, historical and cultural environment of the place. Vilano Beach would be a model for waterfront redevelopment, infill and place-making.

Since its designation in 2003 as a Florida Main Street Community, Vilano Beach Main Street has used its distinctive structure and waterfront location to develop a unique Main Street Program. Through eight public and private projects, Vilano Beach has seen a reinvestment of over $19 million. Volunteers have donated over 10,000 hours of their time to meetings and events.

Florida Main Street is a technical assistance program of the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, Florida Department of State. The Bureau conducts statewide programs aimed at identifying, evaluating, and preserving Florida’s historical resources. Main Street, with its emphasis on preservation, is an effective strategy for achieving these goals in Florida’s historic retail districts. Since 1985, the Bureau has offered manager training, consultant team visits, design and other technical assistance, as well as the benefit of experience gained by other Florida Main Street programs.

To learn more about Vilano Beach Main Street, contact Vivian Browning at 904.501.5891 or contact by e-mail at viviancbrowning@bellsouth.net

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