MARTIN COUNTY — For at least 15 years, various developers have discussed ambitious plans to build along the St. Lucie River in Rio. Now the biggest project yet, more than 15 acres, has gotten approval from a county planning board.
A master site plan for Rio Marine Village — where developments Rio Town Center and Stuart Harbor once were proposed — comprises 192 residential units, including townhomes and apartments; three restaurants; marine and retail buildings; and refurbished boat basins with marinas, site plans show.
The U-shaped project would be bordered by Northeast Dixie Highway, Northeast Rio Pine Lane and Northeast Glass Drive, according to plans.
The project would span 15.5 acres and be developed in seven phases, development documents show.
Developer Josh Simon hopes to break ground within the next year and complete the project in 2½ to three years, he said.
The project was approved Thursday by the county Local Planning Agency on the conditions that the developer complete stormwater-discharge requirements and update plans to reflect moving the roundabout, at Northeast Martin Avenue and Northeast Dixie Highway, to the east. The developer would pay for the relocation.
Rio Marine Village is to be discussed by the County Commission Jan. 25.
Simon, of FLF Holdings, has partnered with real estate guru Charles Modica on the project. Modica built the Bridgetown townhome community in Hobe Sound about 20 years ago, he told the board Thursday, and co-owns Charlie & Joe’s at Love Street in Jupiter with NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath. The stretch of waterfront bars and restaurants opened in 2021.
“I think it’ll help all the local homeowners … with their property values because it’s otherwise a very nice area. It’s just that there’s many older structures there that needed to be uplifted,” Modica said of the project at the meeting. “I want to be proud of it, and I think that at the end of the day, we will be proud of it.”
The project will include spending $4 million to 4.5 million to replace existing seawalls and $2.7 million to add docks and boat storage, Simon said. There would be 39 boat slips and dry-dock storage for 90 boats.
“We’re creating both active and passive uses along the water, not only for our community, but for the entire Rio and hopefully the entire Martin County community,” Simon said. “We’re also developing buildings for the marine industry.”
Julie Preast, of the Rio Civic Club, voiced her support for the project, saying the club has studied the various proposals that have come and gone since before the Great Recession.
“The primary objective for our community with regard to the redevelopment of the Rio Town Center was and is to offer public access to the waterfront through a comprehensive, cohesive design that is walkable and reflects Rio’s character,” Preast said. “(The project) will make our waterfront on the north shore of the St. Lucie River an exceptional destination.”
A master plan for the eastern portion of the project was approved in June 2018 with a different developer, but a final site plan never came to fruition, according to county Principal Planner Pete Walden.
Lina Ruiz is TCPalm's watchdog reporter for Martin County. You can reach her at email@example.com, on Twitter @Lina_Ruiz48 or at 321-501-3845.
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Proposed Rio Marine Village project gets Martin County planning board OK