By: Gil Smart, Treasure Coast Newspapers
Fort Pierce or Stuart?
Well, OK. Each has its own charms.
But if you were going to drop millions on a passenger train station in one of the two communities, which would you pick?
Both cities are in the running for a station to accommodate Virgin Trains (formerly Brightline, formerly All Aboard Florida, formerly ... never mind). The rail company has said it will build at least one station on the Treasure Coast, and long-running local hostility has eased as people begin to realize Hey, we may get something out of this deal.
But where? When?
And most importantly — what will it cost?
In early December, officials from Virgin's development and government relations teams spent time in both cities, checking out prospective station locations.
Previously, the companies had asked the cities — along with the town of Sebastian, which wasn't interested — to submit proposals and demonstrate community support for a local stop.
The company toured two sites in Fort Pierce, said city manager Nick Mimms: the former H.D. King power-plant site on Second Street and a location on Depot Drive, behind the Sunrise Theatre.
In Stuart, said City Attorney Michael Mortell, the company looked at three sites: a parcel near Flagler Park in the shadow of the Roosevelt Bridge; a parcel near Kiwanis Park just to the south/west of "Confusion Corner"; and a third parcel farther south along Dixie Highway, between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Southeast Florida Street.
"This is not a competition," said Fort Pierce City Manager Nick Mimms; he wishes Stuart the best of luck.
But he does think Fort Pierce may have (sorry) the inside track.
The H.D. King site, he said, has everything Virgin officials have said they want in a station location. It's close to the waterfront and a walkable downtown. Existing land use rules support residential, hotel and business development; indeed, that's exactly what city officials want for that location…