St. Augustine commission approves $2.7M renovation project

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - The St. Augustine City Commission voted to approve the $2.7 million renovation project of four streets in downtown St. Augustine at a meeting Monday night.

The $2.7 million project will improve streets near the business center of the nation's oldest city.

"They see it as an economic development and they want a lasting legacy for the 450th (anniversary), so basically a gift to our city would be a streetscape improvement," said Public Works Director Martha Graham.

The streets approved for renovations are Spanish, Treasury, Hypolita and Orange. All streets need better storm-water drainage, added street lights and sidewalks.

Channel 4 caught up with Martha Graham, Director of St. Augustine's Public Works department. She said Treasury Street is in need of the most work.

"It was a brick street with asphalt put on top of it. The asphalt has started to peel away, there's no drainage on the street, it's totally inadequate, so it's in deplorable condition," Graham said. "We also have storm-water and sewer repairs to make under the streets, so when we make the repairs we'll be able to put nice new brick streets on top."

The money approved in the "Legacy Project" will go toward wider sidewalks for pedestrians, lighting, storm-water drainage, gas lines, brick pavers, landscaping and making sure everything is ADA compliant.

"These are very old streets in poor condition, especially Hypolita Street and Treasury Street. They don't have drainage," Graham said.

RENDERINGS: St. Augustine improvement project

The people who live and work along these streets made a big push for the project.

Of the business owners in attendance at the meeting, 49 percent supported the make-over, arguing it will make things safer and more attractive.

According to the Commission, the city would pay half of the cost to make the changes, which is roughly $750,000 and the property owners along the affected streets would pay the other half over the next 15 years.

"This was driven by the property owners on those streets to advance a streetscape improvement project in preparation for the 450th," Graham said.

"We've agreed to $1.17 per lineal foot, per month for 15 years as our portion to help this project move forward, and that's about 25 percent of the total cost. It's going to be $100-$125 per month for property owners downtown," said contractor Len Weeks.

Designs for the renovations are slated to be done by December and construction is set to begin in March of next year.

The city is hoping to have everything complete by the St. Augustine's 450th anniversary celebration.

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