National magazine features Island project
SUN FILE PHOTO
ANNA MARIA – The September issue of Southern Living magazine has a three-page spread on the Anna Maria Pine Avenue Restoration Project in its People and Places section.
The article features Ed Chiles’ and Michael Coleman’s vision for the Pine Avenue corridor.
"One practically grew up in the Island town — the other discovered it while driving through," Michael Beck wrote in the magazine. "Now they’re working together to restore Anna Maria’s classic Florida charm."
Coleman, who was the originator of the idea for the Pine Avenue Project (PAR), said he knew the article was coming.
"It just shows that more and more, this quiet little island is quietly well known for Southern Living to come here and do a story," he said. "It’s an idea, and its time has come."
Coleman lives on Pine Avenue now with his family. His mother-in-law lives just down the street, but he said in the article that he grew up on Florida’s East Coast and then moved to Massachusetts.
When he and his wife, Jane, found the Island almost by accident while driving north from Sarasota, they were struck by its laid back old Florida look.
Chiles, the son of the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, spent summers here, and he and Coleman share a vision for Pine Avenue.
Chiles has researched his history and cites the Anna Maria Beach Development Company’s plan for the street.
"They built the Anna Maria city pier at the end of Pine Avenue in 1911," Chiles said.
He notes that the company built several buildings along the street in the classic Florida architectural style.
“Two of those buildings are Angler’s Lodge and Cozy Corner, which was the scene of an open house late last month,” Chiles said. “Cozy Corner was constructed in 1913.” (Angler’s Lodge actually is on North Bay Boulevard.)
Like the Anna Maria Beach Development Company’s unrealized plans nearly a century ago, the current project envisions a corridor of shops, residences and small eateries running from the city pier to the Gulf. PAR has already acquired several properties along Pine Avenue.
Chiles and Coleman and another partner, Ted LaRoche, have vowed to save whatever historic buildings they can and incorporate them into the project, which will include two-story buildings with business or retail uses on the ground floor and residences on the upper floor.
Pine Avenue is the city’s residential/office/retail district where mixed-use is encouraged.
The article included mention and a photo of Rhea Chiles’ conversion of an old restaurant into The Studio at Gulf and Pine, which hosts classes, talks and art exhibits.
"It’s so obviously time for this project that whenever anybody hears about it, they get excited and want to write about it," Coleman said.