Anastasia Blvd. first of three entrance ways to be reviewedOne of St. Augustine’s most striking and valuable assets is simply the way it looks. Residents appreciate the fact that every day they live, work and play in a city that does not look like “just anywhere,” but rather in a city whose distinctive architecture expresses the city’s past and its unique ambiance.
Of course, this unique ambiance is here today only because of work over the years that has created strict guidelines and regulations governing what a building may look like depending on where it is located. Certainly the most strict rules are in those areas where there are the highest concentration of historic structures, the city’s five Historic Preservation Districts.
Back in 2003, the city recognized that it might be losing control of the ambiance of the city’s entrance ways, specifically along King St., San Marco Ave. and Anastasia Blvd., so design standards were instituted for those important thoroughfares, not with the same rules as the historic districts, but with rules that were reflective of the history and desired ambiance of those streets. These guidelines are contained in the Design Standards for Entry Corridors Guide.
That was over a dozen years ago and it is now time to update the design standards for what some call the city’s three gateways. This week, members of the Planning and Building Department staff along with a team of design specialists, walked the length of Anastasia Blvd., from the Bridge of Lions to Hamilton Upchurch Park, as a start to the review of that area’s design standards since it will be first of the three gateways to be reviewed.
“The simple goal of the update is to make the guidelines clearer, more specific in some ways, and to clarify the approval process,” said David Birchim, Director of Planning and Building. “There are no wholesale changes planned that will radically alter the guidelines. In many ways, the update will make the guidelines easier to read, understand and implement.”
The update of the guidelines will not change their scope, which governs only the appearance of private property. Nothing in the update, or in the original guidelines, relate to any elements in the right-of-way, including sidewalks or the roadway. Even with the current community-wide discussions regarding mobility topics, this update will not address any of those issues. On Anastasia Blvd., the right-of-way is under the jurisdiction of the Florida Department of Transportation, and thus is unaffected by the city’s rules governing appearance of businesses that line the road.
The updated guidelines will relate to only to the appearances of new structures or ones being remodeled or rehabilitated on Anastasia Blvd.. And the goal of the update is not to promote increased business activity or manage traffic patterns in the area, but rather only to govern the look of properties along the roadway.
The project, identified in the strategic goals adopted by the city and supported by the city’s vision plan, is part of the city’s ongoing efforts to update the land development codes and guidelines.
The updating process will starts in October with public input gathered through community meetings that will include both businesses positioned along Anastasia Blvd. and residents living in the adjoining neighborhoods. Additionally, the city’s Planning and Zoning Board (PZB) and the Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) will weigh in with suggestions and ideas. Then, in early 2017, presentations on the proposed update will be presented to PZB and HARB before the City Commission considers adopting the revised document in the late spring.
It is only because of such guidelines and regulations that the St. Augustine community can control its appearance, an element of the city that truly sets it apart from so many other cities. Keeping the rules relevant, easy to understand and to implement are the critical goals of the update so that the St. Augustine community may continue to control St. Augustine’s appearance.
To see a number of resources visit the Anastasia Boulevard Design Guideline Update. For more information on the project, contact the Planning and Building Department at 904.825.1065.