Community Redevelopment Agency

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Creation Documentation and Plans

Before Gulf Breeze was incorporated in 1961 it witnessed significant commercial growth and investment along US 98, consisting of a variety of retail stores, service stations, office complexes, restaurants, motels and shopping centers. There were no standards or guidelines in place to discourage the “strip commercial” pattern that resulted, nor was there an attempt to establish or nurture a “downtown” or “city center” identity.

In an effort by the City to create a sustainable downtown community and to address high vacancy rates in retail and office units along US 98 (Gulf Breeze Parkway), the City of Gulf Breeze proposed the delineation of a redevelopment area along the US 98 corridor, which serves as the City’s economic and, to some extent, social core. To administer the activities and programs offered within the redevelopment area the City created a Community Redevelopment Agency in December of 1989.

The Gulf Breeze CRA is approximately 393 acres in size, about 13% of the City’s acreage, and is comprised of approximately 410 parcels. The CRA is located along the entire corridor of US 98 within the City limits, beginning at the south side of the Pensacola Bay Bridge and extending at various depths northeast and southwest of the highway to the City’s eastern limits. The CRA also includes the Pensacola Beach Road corridor south of US 98, which forms the approach to the Bob Sikes Bridge to Pensacola Beach.

The need for a CRA was established in 1989 based on the Finding of Necessity documentation required pursuant to Chapter 163, Florida Statutes. This document continues to act as the foundation for blight determination within the CRA and the elimination of these blighting characteristics remains the primary focus for redevelopment activities. Many of the blighting characteristics have been addressed to some degree since the time the CRA was established in 1989; however, some issues have not been addressed, or have not been addressed fully, so the need continues to exist.

The City of Gulf Breeze adopted its first redevelopment plan in 1990 to “…assist the City with addressing the early signs of blight identified in 1989 and to stimulate economic development within the community redevelopment area.” The City’s 1990 comprehensive plan states that “…much of the commercial core suffers from underutilization and aesthetically poor architecture.”

Concurrent with the Agency being created in 1989, the City Council was appointed as the Board of the Community Redevelopment Agency. Subsequently, a Redevelopment Plan was developed and adopted following several public hearings. The Redevelopment Plan established the goals for implementing revitalization of the core downtown area.

The CRA Plan has been updated in 2006 and again in 2009. In order to ensure that an orderly plan of growth would be followed, the Gulf Breeze Community Redevelopment Agency directed that the 1990 Gulf Breeze Community Redevelopment Plan be updated. Based on community input and visioning that began in March 2006 and culminated in July 2008, this updated plan evaluates the CRA’s physical and economic conditions and the challenges and opportunities facing the community.

Redevelopment strategies and critical tasks are included in this update that will enable the City of Gulf Breeze to stimulate and encourage economic development, provide increased public amenities, improve pedestrian safety and effectively manage redevelopment within the CRA in order to realize the City’s vision and long-term community goals. Short-term (up to five years) and long-term (up to ten years) capital improvements projects are identified as a means to address these issues in a way that will maximize leveraging of local, state and federal resources in the implementation of this plan.

Since 1989, the City has been proactive in addressing the issues in the Redevelopment Plan and several major initiatives have been completed over the past ten years. Most noticeable is the median landscaping, decorative fencing, establishment of the Community Redevelopment design guidelines and urban design standards, and designation of CRA four major Gateway Districts. Thanks to the efforts of the Community Redevelopment Agency Board, Gulf Breeze’s downtown continues to improve.

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