The Downtown Melbourne
Redevelopment Area (map) was created in 1982 and has successfully assisted the
revitalization of a historic downtown district. Centered along New Haven
Avenue, the historic commercial district is bounded by the saltwater
Indian River Lagoon on the east and by a freshwater tributary known as
Crane Creek on the south.
Melbourne Redevelopment Committee is currently working on 'streetscape'
projects, including a proposal for low-level lighting
for the downtown area. In addition, the Committee is trying to determine
ways to provide more public parking.
Redevelopment began after
downtown businesses faltered following the development shopping malls in
the area. A "tax increment" financing plan was approved by the
City Council to capture both city and county taxes on property values that
exceeded the 1982 level.
As a result of the redevelopment
district, streets and sidewalks have been improved and brick trim added.
Small parks were improved and parking was added, along with benches,
lighting, and waste receptacles. As two other development phases followed,
parking lots were purchased and improved.
Related projects undertaken by
the city included joint park improvements with the Department of Natural
Resources. In 1985, a civic center was added at a park on the Indian River
Lagoon. City support also included a Architectural Review Board appointed
by the City Council to review construction plans that impacted the
downtown appearance. The maintenance of parks, plantings, and parking
areas became a priority and earned beautification awards.
Private investment has also been
significant. A large marina development was completed, along with a
waterfront restaurant and condominiums. A high-rise office building was
added to the skyline. Renovations included a historic hotel that now
serves as an office building.
Downtown merchants now report a
healthy customer flow. Downtown retail space includes antique and
specialty shops. A nationally recognized art show is held annually,
along with smaller cultural events. The Henegar Center for the
Performing Arts, which
once housed a high school provides a theater and office space for