On May 15, the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners approved Alta Mar Holdings LLC’s plans to sell off the back 40 acres of the Oak Bridge Club at Sawgrass’ golf course for commercial and age-restricted residential development. Thanks to that decision, staff at the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach may now see their hopes for a larger facility come to fruition.
“At the May 15 meeting, our reaction was all excitement,” said CCPVB Executive Director Donna Guzzo. “We had over 25 people there representing Alta Mar from our center and promoting and pushing for that land sale so that, eventually, we could make our dream happen.”
According to Art Hayden, president of the CCPVB Board of Directors, Alta Mar approached the nonprofit’s staff two years ago to propose selling them the land on the course that abuts A1A between Sawgrass Village and the Summer House condos. As a result, the Cultural Center has been planning for some time now to construct a new facility on that land, but has been awaiting the county’s final vote to move forward. Although an official agreement has not been signed with Alta Mar, approval of the development moves the Cultural Center one step closer to its new location, which would not only offer more space for the organization’s many outreach programs, but also more visibility.
“Our current building is behind Al’s Pizza and we’ve had it for 20 years,” Hayden said. “Nobody can find us, parking is bad and the building is inadequate for our needs. We currently service about 8,000 individuals out of this facility. With the new building, we believe the number will move to approximately 31,000 people.”
In addition to providing parking for up to 140 vehicles, one notable feature of the new Arts Center at Ponte Vedra Beach would be its rooftop deck.
“We actually have a donor who has put a reserve on that space up there already,” Hayden added. “We will have facilities for expanded exhibit space, along with seating and a kitchen, which will provide us with the capability of having banquets for up to 200 people — a lot of the stuff that isn’t readily available very close to Ponte Vedra Beach, or the center of Ponte Vedra.”
Designed by architect Mark Macco, who is also the president-elect of the CCPVB Board of Directors, renderings of the front of the 15,000-foot facility also feature a fountain with a rather sculptural overhang, seeming to hint at the building’s artistic purpose.
“Arts are what separate a good community from a great community,” Macco said. “The iconic new Ponte Vedra Arts Center will not only improve the quality of life for the area’s citizens, it will be great for local businesses.”
Construction on the $7 million project is expected to take about 24 months, and Cultural Center staff are optimistic that the process will be underway by the end of 2018.
“We are super excited to make this dream a reality for many people in St. Johns County and the Beaches area,” Guzzo said. “Having a new facility with visibility can only enhance our programming, especially bringing awareness to the Sound Connections Music Therapy program for children with special needs. It's a win-win situation for all.”