8th Street The Road More Traveled

Rather than being a gateway to the downtown 8th Street has decayed into a gauntlet of rundown buildings and empty sites.

8th Street The Road More Traveled By: Philip Griffin

Sitting in my office on 8th Street and watching the cars drive by, I have to wonder if the occupants are thinking the same thoughts I have when I drive the street, “What happened to this street that makes no one willing to invest in its future?” For many first time visitors to Amelia Island this 4 mile stretch of abandoned and worn out properties is unfortunately the first view they see on their way to “historic downtown Fernandina Beach”.

Rather than being a gateway to the downtown it has slowly decayed into a gauntlet of rundown shabby buildings and empty sites that is stuck in the past.

Why should anyone care about 8th street if they don’t own property, live or work there? The answer is because a healthy and beautiful 8th street is good for everyone. A revitalized strip would provide a clean and pleasant welcome mat to visitors and locals alike. Imagine a street lined with attractive buildings, beautifully landscaped businesses offering services, retail and even housing to meet the needs of residents and tourists. For locals a new and improved 8th street would mean job creation, higher property values, more tax revenue and the loss of an eyesore. To visitors and south Amelia Island residents a new 8th street would add joy to the drive and maybe give folks a reason to stop and shop or dine on their way to Centre Street. A pretty street is a happy street for all.

The positive benefits of improving a scarred and tarnished area anywhere in Fernandina Beach or on Amelia Island can also become the catalyst for more beautiful things to come. Investment tends to be contagious and could easily spread to neighboring streets and lead to revitalization of an even larger area, including the long blighted “just off Centre Street” CRA. Thinking of blighted streets and neighborhoods as a cancer that affects all of us is the only way for us to band together and make the needed changes.

Want to contribute to this endeavor? We need your input and guidance. Recently, a group of concerned citizens teamed up with representatives from Fernandina Beach and Nassau County to come up with a plan for revitalization. The New 8th Street group plans to meet monthly to envision and then implement a plan for the future. We will examine why no one wants to invest, what needs to change and how can the public and private sector work together to make it happen.

Please add your comments by taking a quick survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/8thStreetInput and stay informed on progress by going to www.fbfl.us and look for updates on the home page or join us in future meetings.

The group’s next meeting will be in City Hall commission chambers beginning at 3:30 on Tuesday July 15, 2014. Other group members will be offering viewpoints in future issues so stay posted.

Philip Griffin frequently writes articles on public policy and business matters. He is a licensed commercial real estate broker on Amelia Island, Florida and has a degree in Business Economics from Syracuse University. He can be reached at phil@acrfl.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Warren Yursik

    Two words: log trucks.

    The only way you’ll get 8th street revitalized will be to get rid of the trucks. The trucks won’t go away until the two mills shut down.

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