NEW ZONING CATEGORY SET
City officials have been working since December changing
the port’s patchwork zoning – a necessary step that will
advance the plans. The new designation, which is also a
new zoning category, will be Port Industrial District, or PID,
which will allow mixed uses of land at the port.
The city commission handles zoning on the port property
while the county is responsible for the master plan. The city is
also working on redevelopment plans for Fisherman’s Wharf,
just south of Derecktor’s new shipyard, linking the port with
the River Walk Center at Veterans Memorial Park and from
there to the city’s historical downtown.
Harbour Pointe will be a first-class destination park with
amenities expected to draw visitors from the entire county
and beyond – a significant change from the years when the
port was seen solely as a cargo facility, primarily for citrus
fruit. But citrus production has declined sharply. According
to a 2020 CBS News report, statewide grapefruit harvest for
the last 20 years fell from 50 million boxes annually to 4.5
million, based on numbers released by the U.S. Department
of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistical Service.
The port area on the inlet is seen by consultants as an
important and much-needed economic and social engine for
Fort Pierce and beyond by creating marine-related jobs and
a destination for residents and visitors seeking a day of waterfront
fun. People might walk, bike or drive to Fisherman’s
Wharf, the A.E. Backus Museum and Gallery, the Manatee
Center, the Saturday Farmers’ Market and historical downtown’s
COMMUNITY INPUT FAVORABLE
The park and a marine industry hub were uses favored by
94 percent of respondents who replied to surveys conducted
by consultants. A new cargo and work boat wharf for small
businesses was also favored.
“Now we’re at the beginning of something that probably
took too long to get there but we’re finally there,” Townsend
said after the November presentation by Scott Legueux of
Moffatt & Nichol and Atkins, both multinational companies.
The port will continue as a maintenance, refit and overhaul
facility operated by Derecktor for the next 30 years. Derecktor’s
facility will serve as the anchor for all that is expected
to grow around it. It’s at the end of the deep-water channel
previously used by import/export ships.
The shipyard is an engine for future development of the
port, according to Peter Tesch, president of the St. Lucie
County Economic Development Council. The network of
vendors that Derecktor can use and other marine-related
businesses will provide dozens and dozens of jobs, he said,
and Derecktor is expected to create 170 jobs over time.
With the new master plan recognizing that the port can fulfill
the long-held dream of attracting marine businesses, port
and airport director Stan Payne called it “… a beacon to the
private sector,” saying that a marketing study will help draw
in the businesses that fit the port.
LAGOON HEALTH A CONCERN
The plan also calls for a 120-150 slip public marina and a
marine research and education facility. This is in addition >>
ST. LUCIE COUNTY
An overview of the newly planned Harbour Pointe Park with a marina near the top right, Derecktor Fort Pierce, and the Fisherman’s Wharf, near the bottom
left. In the middle are a planned cargo wharf and various marine businesses.