Anna Maria Island, Florida — Advisory Services Panel

Date: February 22-27, 2015

Location: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Sponsor: City of Anna Maria Island

Subject Area: Long Term Development and Vision for a Three City Island

Panel Chair: Alex J. Rose, Senior Vice President of Development

Continental Development Corporation, El Segundo, CA

For the panel report, please visit ULI’s Knowledge Finder 

Background and Panel Assignment

Anna Maria Island (AMI) is a 7-mile long barrier island, located off the coast of Manatee County, Florida. Just to the north lies Tampa Bay, to the south is Longboat Key (also a barrier island); the Intracoastal Waterway and Anna Maria Sound lie to the east. AMI has three cities—Anna Maria to the north, Holmes Beach in the middle, and Bradenton Beach to the south. Each city has its own municipal government with some shared services among the three.

Over time, the desirability and exposure of AMI has increased—in 2013 AMI was chosen by Forbes magazine as “#3 Prettiest City” in the country, and in 2014 Condé Nest Traveler named it one of the “Top 30 Islands in the World”—and with that renown has come an influx of development, tourism, and demographic pressures and changes. Major growth is projected for the region, which will undoubtedly affect AMI’s future development and overall growth patterns

The cities of Anna Maria Island asked ULI to look at the opportunities and challenges that face AMI and to provide specific recommendations and strategic advice on redevelopment pressures facing, current land use policies in relation to AMI’s “Old Florida” community, how the three cities can share a larger vision as well as resources, and transportation activity.

As development patterns and population trends continue to evolve, AMI hopes to achieve a balance between its permanent and part-time residents, visitors, and businesses. The cities of Anna Maria Island asked ULI to look at the opportunities and challenges that face AMI and to provide specific recommendations and strategic advice on the following:

  • Evaluate the redevelopment pressures facing AMI.
  • Evaluate AMI’s positioning as an ‘Old Florida” beach community.
  • Evaluate current land uses and public policy related to the “Old Florida” objective.
  • How can the three cities leverage a shared vision?
  • What are ways to improve connectivity between the AMI cities, the mainland, and Longboat Key?
  • What design considerations can improve the functionality and beauty of downtown shopping areas, beaches, bay side and its piers, and parks?
  • How can the three cities gain efficiencies through combined or shared city services?

The panel’s findings and recommendations aim to help AMI create the necessary plans and tools to ensure responsible change and preservation that balance the needs of AMI’s permanent and transient populations and enhance the value of the character of the community.

Summary of Recommendations

Addressing the assignment’s main questions, the panel suggested the following key recommendations and observations for the study area:

  • AMI must harness the market to meet its goals and
    manage redevelopment and future growth.
  • The guide to AMI’s future is to understand itself. AMI’s community—a balance of permanent and transient that will always be the island’s nature—is the road map to its future.
  • Embrace AMI’s most distinct features: it is eclectic and small scale and boasts a diverse natural landscape.
    • Continue commitment to achieve balance between visitors and residents.
  • Place making and zoning are tools that can help manage development and guide future growth.
    • Good design creates an emotional attachment to a place.
    • Good design can also help resident and visitor populations embrace their shared identity and community.
  • Designate areas of preservation and areas of change. AMI is composed of many areas to be preserved and some areas to plan for strategic and thoughtful development over time.
  • Stay funky and eclectic; this is part of AMI’s charm.
  • AMI has enough cars.
    • Make sure AMI has multiple safe and easy transportation options (automobile, trolley, pedestrian, bicycling, walking).
    • Manage the island’s circulation and systems.
  • Developing the island plan is key to achieving results.
    • Get together. Discuss the cities’ shared needs and objectives—and collaborate.
    • Develop a shared vision. Evaluate the communities’ choices, make decisions, flex AMI’s leverage, and implement action plans.

Additional details about these recommendations can be found in the presentation and a final report that will be posted once complete..

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