Historic Downtown Stuart crowned winner of ‘Great Places in Florida’ contest
STUART — The people have spoken, officially designating Historic Downtown Stuart winner of the Great Places in Florida Award.
Stuart’s historic downtown claimed the People’s Choice Award in the annual contest organized by the Florida chapter of the 2020 American Planning Association (APA).
The City of Stuart teamed with Martin County’s Tourism Development Board to spread the word about the contest.
“It was great to work with the Martin Tourism Development Board on another award for the City of Stuart,” says David Dyess, Stuart city manager. “Being named the winner of Great Paces in Florida, along with our other awards, it’s evident that citizens across the state see Downtown Stuart as a premier destination.”
Stuart also was named “America’s Happiest Seaside Town” by Coastal Living in 2016; a finalist in Smithsonian Magazine’s 2015 “Best Small Towns to Visit,” and ranked No. 6 among “60 charming American towns you haven’t heard of but should visit ASAP,” by Oprah’s magazine.
In addition to mentioning downtown Stuart’s restored Lyric Theatre and more than 50 independently owned restaurants, bars and boutiques, the acclaimed APA praised downtown’s steady and ongoing evolution, recognizing:
· Locally led efforts undertaken three decades ago to “transform the city’s nondescript downtown area by restoring it to its former 1920s glory.”
· Recent revitalization projects by the City of Stuart to enhance thoroughfares on Osceola Street and Flagler Avenue, which supported exposure for local businesses.
· New beautification efforts to make downtown even more pedestrian-friendly, including artistic crosswalks, installation of sculptures by world-renowned Stuart sculptor Geoffrey Smith, added parking, new outside dining areas and additional shade trees.
Historic Downtown Stuart beat out finalists Mill Lake Park Continuum and Warm Springs Mineral Park. Previous winners include, among others, Downtown Winter Haven in 2019; Downtown Winter Garden in 2018 and Downtown Pensacola in 2017.