Several years ago the town council borrowed $10 million to help fund three major projects to spruce up areas of the island that badly needed sprucing up; Bayside Park, Bay Oaks and Times Square. Here’s where they all stand as we swing into 2022.
The long overdo facelift to the downtown area and Bay Oaks will compliment the new Margaritaville resort and, eventually, a redesigned roadway once you come over the bridge. There is also sidewalk work being done in that area and the installation of several traffic lights.
The Bayside Park, Bay Oaks and Times Square projects are being done by the town, the foot-of-the-bridge project will be done by the state and Margaritaville is a private developer, TPI.
When all projects are complete there will be over $220 million invested in that small area of the island and Bay Oaks.
There’s one thing that will never change…the view of the Gulf of Mexico as you make your way – most likely at a snails pace – over the Matanzas Pass Bridge. Councilman Jim Atterholt first started calling what’s taking place a Renaissance, and his phraseology has certainly taken hold. Others are starting to refer to the downtown area as The Margaritaville District.
And while the construction, on top of the lack of parking, will certainly be an inconvenience for the next few years, when you finally do make it to the beach, the sand is still soft and the view is still superb. Not to mention the convenience of the restaurants and shops all within walking distance.
Bayside Park is expected to see shovels in the ground first. That project should be starting any time. It was originally slated to begin around January 1st.
Out with the old non-working fountain and decades-old gazebo, in with shade trees, a permanent stage and a clear view of the Back Bay.
A new Wahoo Willies restaurant will add to the choices of restaurants on that end of Old San Carlos to go with Snug Harbor, Nervous Nellie’s and Matanzas. The cost to beautify Bayside Park is just under $900,000. (All of our stories about the Bayside Park project are archived HERE)
Bay Oaks will start after Bayside Park, probably around May. The budget for Bay Oaks is $5.5 million. You can read a detailed update about Bay Oaks in our next story (All of our stories about Bay Oaks are archived HERE).
The renovation to Times Square should start this summer. The project includes underground work to improve the drainage, new pavers, a permanent stage and the restaurants will get new pergolas to replace the umbrellas. And yes there will be a clock, so don’t throw away those polaroid cameras just yet.
Sandcast clay pavers will be installed, which will be strong enough to handle a fire truck, and have a soft feel on bare feet. It’s the same product already installed on Old San Carlos.
The plan is to save as many of the palm trees as possible, but there’s no guarantee once they’re removed from the ground to be moved, that they can be saved. If they cannot be saved, they will be replaced.
There will be a moveable FMB Logo sign that the council believes everyone will use as an area to take selfies. If you know the Times Square area, the sign would sit near the poinsettia Christmas Tree. That sign could also be used for other community events.
When it starts, this multi-million project is slated to take 8 months. How the restaurants deal with the construction will have to be worked out. There was some discussion about doing the work in two 4-month sessions, and avoiding the busy season, and doing it all at once and getting it over with (All of our timeline stories about the Times Square project can be found HERE).
If all goes according to plan, all three projects should be done before 2024. The new Margaritaville Resort should also be open by then completing a huge revitalization to the area every visitor, tourist and local sees when they first come over the Matanzas Pass bridge.