Vero Beach – Long-awaited plans for an art village in the downtown Edgewood neighborhood were realized with a City Council vote to create new zoning for the area. In a unanimous vote, city commissioners agreed to create a special zoning district that allows for art-related commercial activity in the residential neighborhood.
Plans for the Art Village began in 2015 through a project supported by the Cultural Council of Indian River County, which brought together neighborhood residents, business leaders, architects, planners city officials and local cultural groups. Together they created a proposal to reimagine the historic Edgewood neighborhood as a cultural arts village complementary to the existing businesses in the Arts District along 14th Avenue. This plan was accepted by the City Council in 2016 and made part of the city’s comprehensive plan in 2018.
Within the new special zoning district, artists will have the opportunity to live, work and sell their art in home studios. These studios will be supported by cafes, bed and breakfast lodging, and other small businesses related to the arts. The Art Village will reflect principles of retrofitting rather than redevelopment — preserving structures, street layouts and motifs that are an important part of Vero’s heritage and sense of place. There will be no increase in neighborhood density.
The goal is to make the neighborhood attractive so more creative people will move into downtown Vero Beach
With the zoning approval, the project will move from the Cultural Council to a new nonprofit organization, the Friends of the Vero Beach Art Village, which will provide support for the development and ongoing success of the Art Village. The nonprofit group is made up of Edgewood residents and business owners along with community members who share this vision of neighborhood revitalization, a celebration of the arts and improved quality of life.
Neighborhood beautification efforts are already underway, including colorful murals and street art, tree planting and street cleanup. The nonprofit is developing a major campaign to encourage artists and other merchants to purchase or rent property in the neighborhood. Skip Fuller, chair of the new organization, said, “The goal is to make the neighborhood attractive so more creative people will move into downtown Vero Beach. We are also hoping local residents and businesses will become active partners in the art village project.”