Saturday, November 26, 2005

Glades Riverfront Plans At Luncheon

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The Glades County Economic Development Council will
host their annual luncheon Friday, Dec. 2 at noon at the new Riverview
Restaurant, formerly the Branding Iron, at Glades Resort. The public is
invited to attend and hear the proposed plans for revitalizing the city of
Moore Haven's historic riverfront district.

The Glades County Economic Development Council took another step in
supporting the city's efforts to save the historic commercial district by
funding the establishment of a 501 c 3 to allow donations made to Main
Street Moore Haven to be tax deductible. The concensus of Main Street
consultants is that if the city, through the Main Street initiative, can
land two significant development projects on the riverfront, perhaps a
hotel/restaurant or a residential complex on vacant land north of US 27,
the next step should be to host a retail/marketing conference and invite
retailers/commercial prospects to tour the area.

Earlier this month, Traci Whirls, EDC Director joined historic preservation
architect Robert M. Feild, AIA, Principal of Feild Associates of Baltimore
in touring the historic commercial buildings along Avenue J, and met with
property owners, collecting square footage data, making preliminary
estimates as to costs of rehabilitation and brainstorming concerning
possible mixed use development, perhaps by incorporating commercial/retail
space downstairs and offices/apartments or other lodging upstairs. They
also discussed funding opportunities for the various buildings'
rehabilitation, including the potential use of historic preservation tax
credits, acquisition and development grant funds, and opportunities for
private investment. The two also met with Banana Bay Tours owner Fred
Trepper and John Capece of Southern Datastream, Inc. for some brainstorming
concerning the riverfront and design for dockage.

"I think our best opportunities are based on our waterfront location, as a
destination resort and gateway to 'gloriously natural Glades County,'" Ms.
Whirls said. "I think we can build a niche market, by recruiting lodging,
river/lake cruises, upscale dining and specialty shops."

Ms. Whirls cautioned that revitalization isn't going to happen overnight.
"Our first step is to take stock of our assets, devise an action plan and
begin to calculate how much rehabilitating our historic commercial district
is going to cost. The next step will involve working with property owners,
potential property owners, city and county officials to finalize plans and
identify funding streams to make it happen."

Toward that end, the city of Moore Haven will hold a workshop Monday, Dec.
12 from 2-6 p.m. to begin envisioning what a new, revitalized Moore Haven
might look like. Business owners, prospective business owners, public
officials and residents are encouraged to attend.

Tickets for the luncheon, at the Riverview Restaurant, under new management
by Christopher, formerly of Christopher's in LaBelle, are $15. The menu
includes choice of beef or chicken buffet, soup, salad and drink. Tickets
are available at the EDC office, in the Doyle Conner Building, 900 SW US
27, Moore Haven. Phone (863) 946-0300 to reserve your ticket.

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