Gardner’s Park Neighborhood Plan

At the request of property and business owners in the Gardner’s Park neighborhood located in the Downtown Redevelopment Area, the CRA initiated a planning effort to create a neighborhood vision and implementation strategy for the area. Ensite, a local planning firm on continuing contract with the City, was engaged to hold three public charrettes and numerous smaller meetings as they prepared a vision for the revitalization of the area.  For purposes of this plan, the Gardner’s Park neighborhood is bordered by the river to the north, Fowler Street to the west, Park and Evans Avenue to the east and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard to the south.  

After the initial draft of the neighborhood vision was prepared, the Gardner’s Park Neighborhood Association (GPNA) held a number of meetings for the residents, property owners and business owners to ensure everyone’s input was considered.  As a result of these meetings, the vision was revised to better reflect the neighborhood’s ideas of what future development should occur in the future.

The final draft of the Gardner’s Park Neighborhood Plan, which includes input from the August 8, 2016 public meeting, emphasizes infill development at a moderately increased density to accommodate innovative types of urban housing while maintaining the character of the neighborhood.  The Plan embraces the urban concept of creating a high quality public realm and envisions walkable blocks with sidewalks and street trees, on-street parking, numerous pocket parks and community gardens.  The major elements of the Plan include the following: 

Element 1: Increased density for Urban General Zoning category – Density allowed in Urban General is currently 6 units per acre by right and 12 units with a bonus density allocation. The increased density goals for Gardner’s Park are in general congruence with the City’s efforts to implement Downtown Density Update Strategies anticipated for review and processing in January – May 2017.  

Element 2: Create bonus density criteria specific to Gardner’s Park – Bonus density criteria for projects in Gardner’s Park should include benefits consistent with the plan for the neighborhood (shared parking lot fund, trolley fund, public art fund, community garden fund).

Element 3: Zoning change along Second Street and portions of Hough Street - There are several parcels between Fowler and Hough Street that have split zoning (Urban Center on the Fowler Street side and Urban General on the Hough Street side).  The GPNA’s recommendation is to make the entire parcel Urban Center.  

Element 4: Create a new Urban Center 3-5 category – The recommended zoning for Second Street from Fowler Street to Park Avenue would involve creating a new zoning category known as Urban Center 3-5.  This category would allow the more intense uses allowed under Urban Center, but instead of a seven story height limit allowed under Urban Center this new category would allow three stories by right and five stories with a PUD. This proposed category for Gardner’s Park is in general congruence with the City’s efforts to implement Downtown Density Update Strategies anticipated for review and processing in January – May 2017.

Element 5: Setback standards – The setback in the Smart Code for Urban General is 15 feet. The recommended front yard setback for the Urban General category in Gardner’s Park is 5 feet from the right of way or the setback of the structures on the adjoining property.  Likewise, the side yard setback is recommended at 5 foot instead of 0.

Element 6: Building orientation – Allow principal buildings to face the side of the lot if the side facing the frontage is visually appealing with windows, porches and an attractive façade design.

Element 7: Street lighting – The Association voted to request the same light poles and fixtures as downtown with the understanding that this might entail entering into an assessment program.

Element 8: Signs – The GPNA approved a sign design that identifies the area as Gardner’s Park and has requested that the CRA help fund the manufacturing and installation of up to six signs marking the boundaries of the neighborhood.

Element 9: Security – Security is a strong interest of the GPNA. The group would like to request security cameras, a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) review and continue to grow the Neighborhood Watch program.

Element 10: Second floor building use – Allow office uses on the second floor of existing homes.  

Element 11: Enhancement of detention ponds
– Enhance the FDOT detention ponds by adding fountains, benches, public art, and walkways.  Keep the existing fences in place for added security (access could be restricted to residents) and allow a portion of the area to be used as a dog park.

Element 12: Definition of Active Arts District
– A more extensive definition of “artisans” or “arts workshop” is proposed. It allows for up to a 1,500 sq. ft. facility and expands the uses to include baked goods and other hand crafted items.

Since Ensite agreed with only some of the neighborhood’s recommendations, the firm recommended removing the more detailed wording and graphics added by the GPNA in order to keep it in conformance with the nature of a vision plan and to insure the vison could be carried out by making necessary revisions to the Land Development Code. The GPNA’s version of the recommendations are included as an Appendix to the Plan.

On December 5, 2016, the Vision Plan was adopted in concept by the City Council. The next step will be to have the plan formally adopted by amending the 2010 Downtown Plan to incorporate the Gardner’s Park Vision Plan. This will be done in concert with the amendments to the Downtown Plan associated with the proposed Downtown Density Update Strategy that was endorsed in concept by the CRA at its Sept. 28, 2016 meeting. The package of amendments is expected to be considered by Advisory Boards, CRA, and Council in January – May 2017.