VENICE, FL. - It's a highly used industrial area in Venice some say could be better used. Now, talks of turning it into a waterfront type location is once again being discussed by city leaders.
It's called the Seaboard Area and it’s located just off the Island of Venice and along the Intercoastal Waterway. There’s a nice water view, but the businesses along the area don't use it. Helping them move to other parts of the city could perhaps bring on some major development there.
Along the Intercoastal Waterway there certainly seems to be a lot of potential. Water views, even if man made come at a premium. "I look at that area and I can see a nice river walk area with a bit of park space," says Venice City Mayor John Holic.
Mayor Holic sees the potential for things like condos, retail, tech-based businesses, maybe even a satellite campus to one of the local colleges. "It can be such a wide variety of beautiful buildings in a beautiful surrounding."
There is just one big problem. The businesses already there would have to go. "It would be tough to just up and move."
Along the stretch are dozens of established businesses which provide services and hundreds of jobs. Places like Inline Filling Systems build large machines which help fill and package products. "I can appreciate what they want to do. Obviously our concerns are trying to replace the exact structure and the type of things we need to do in the building. To replace it would be an extreme burden on our company. Probably to the point of putting us out of business," says Joe Schemenauer of Inline Filling Systems Inc.
Mayor Holic says imminent domain isn't something he's thinking of. "We would not want to turn around and dislocate viable businesses."
Instead, Holic says the city could look at designating the stretch as a community redevelopment area. Taxes taken in from increases in property values would be set aside and invested. Incentives and grants could be grabbed to help businesses relocate in the city. "We would be willing to move if it worked out if it was very equitable. Obviously, if we had the opportunity to move someplace else and still be in the area, we would absolutely be open to that."
By the way, Holic isn't alone in thinking it might be a good idea. Redeveloping the area has been a part of the city's comprehensive plan for 20 years. "We can't keep talking about it and doing nothing. We can't keep doing that. We have to do something," says Holic.
The city itself would have to make some changes. The Public Works Department currently takes up seven acres along Seaboard Avenue, and Holic says moving those facilities could be the starting point.