VERO BEACH — The city of Vero Beach moved one step closer to having a Cultural Arts Village when the city council approved on April 20 an ordinance to establish the village.

The council action rezoned the properties, generally located west of 14th Ave., north of 18th St., east of 20th Ave., and south of Route 60. The city also approved regulations to implement the village, with the intention, according to a staff memo, of ensuring “new development in the village reinforces the residential character of the Edgewood neighborhood while allowing accessory art-related commercial uses.”

The zoning changes implement the Cultural Arts Village, based on the recommendations in the city’s 2016 Cultural Arts Village report.

With the zoning approval, the project will move from the Cultural Council, which initiated the project in 2015, to a new nonprofit organization, the Friends of the Vero Beach Art Village, which will provide support for the development and ongoing success of the art village.

According to an April 20 statement from that new nonprofit, the group “is made up of Edgewood residents and business owners along with community members who share the vision of neighborhood revitalization, celebration of the arts and improved quality of life.”

The project “brought together neighborhood residents, business leaders, architects, planners, city officials, and local cultural groups,” read the statement. “Together they created a proposal to reimagine the historic Edgewood neighborhood as a cultural arts village complementary to the existing businesses in the Arts District along 14th Avenue.”

“Within the new special zoning district, artists will have the opportunity to live, work and sell their art in home studios. These studios will be supported by cafes, bed and breakfast lodging, and other small businesses related to the arts.”

The new group pledged that “the Art Village will reflect principles of retrofitting rather than redevelopment - preserving structures, street layouts and motifs that are an important part of Vero’s heritage and sense of place. There will be no increase in neighborhood density.”

Skip Fuller, chair of the new organization, said, “The goal is to make the neighborhood attractive so more creative people will move into downtown Vero Beach. We are also hoping local residents and businesses will become active partners in the art village project.”

The nonprofit is planning a campaign to encourage artists and other merchants to purchase or rent property in the neighborhood.

According to Planning and Development Director Jason Jeffries, the change is consistent with Objective 12 in the City’s Comprehensive Plan. The ordinance reinforces the residential character of the Edgewood neighborhood while allowing accessory art-related commercial uses.

As Mayor Robbie Brackett said, the city council vote was essentially to approve the concept of the Cultural Arts Village.

Mr. Jeffries said that the neighborhood is currently zoned only for residential uses. He said what this plan calls for is for the artists to not only live and do art in their own home, but they could also have a gallery.

Mr. Jeffries said the new zoning will allow art patrons to purchase art pieces directly from the artist’s home.

For more information, visit verobeachartvillage.com.

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