CENTERING A CITY
After a series of failed attempts, the final chapter
is underway for downtown development
MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center, formerly the civic center, is home to everything from classes and meetings inside to concerts and festivals outside.
BY ELLEN GILLETTE
In a year of canceled air travel and cruises, staycations
within Florida have helped satisfy the hunger for a
change of scenery. When visiting a new city, the natural
place to start is its downtown, with retail, restaurants,
government, offices, theaters, galleries and parks. Downtowns
are often home to farmer’s markets, car shows, art and
craft shows, home shows, parades, even 5K runs. If you live
in or visit a city, downtown is the place to be.
Unless you’re in Port St. Lucie.
The 1960s focus for brand new Port St. Lucie was residential,
a “bedroom community.” Homes multiplied overnight,
selling quickly to retirees or to workers who commuted to
jobs north or south. As demographics changed, however, residents
CITY OF PORT ST. LUCIE
needed more convenient access to medical care, grocery
stores and gas stations.
By the 1990s, St. Lucie West was being planned. The
original vision of sprawling residential sections proved
inadequate for the astonishing number of people who
flocked there. Business sectors, entertainment, restaurants
and schools were added, creating 7,000 jobs. By 2019, Port St.
Lucie was the sixth fastest growing city in the country.
But a thriving downtown? No. The area around the MIDFLORIDA
8 Port St. Lucie Magazine
Credit Union Event Center formerly the Port St.
Lucie Civic Center has tremendous potential for expansion
and development, but for almost two decades the city has
suffered a series of failed attempts, unfulfilled obligations >>