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Fort Pierce gives nod to $85 Million Audubon Development project instead of Virgin Trains for H.D King property

Posted at 9:26 PM, Jun 13, 2019

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Shopping, dining, and upscale living.

Audubon Development’s $85 Million development proposal, King’s Landing, got the nod from Fort Pierce city leaders Thursday afternoon to move forward, instead of a plan from Virgin Trains.

The two proposals were similar in that they included a hotel option, residential space and retail space at the long-vacant H.D King property.

Virgin Trains' hallmark was the train station their project might bring.

However, during Thursday’s presentations, Audubon Development’s plan was more detailed, a Marriot hotel was already secured, and the physical appearance of the development suited what city leaders were looking for.

Virgin Trains' plan was still very preliminary, as they admitted the request from the city for proposals for the H.D King property came faster than they anticipated.

Virgin Trains did not have a visual of what their project would look like, nor did they have a hotel secured.

The biggest fallback: They could not promise a train station.

A Virgin Trains representative told city commissioners, “We cannot sit here and guarantee a station, but what we can guarantee is selecting us continues our dialogue and the opportunity to deliver a train station to the Treasure Coast.”

That was not good enough to most of the several dozen people from the community inside the meeting.

Virgin Trains has still not decided if it wants to move forward with a train station in Fort Pierce or Stuart. That decision could be months, if not years away.

Audubon Development CEO, Dale Matteson, says his plan is ready to go, an open to modifications as the city sees fit. His plan also does not stop the train from coming in the future.

“I feel like the dog that’s been chasing the car and I finally caught it. We’re excited,” Matteson said.

Matteson said he is aiming to start construction next summer.

Here are the basic specifications of the project:

40,000 square feet of retail space
A 120-room Marriott Hotel
60 condominiums
8-single family homes
14,000 square feet of restaurant space, including stand-alone restaurants.
300 parking spaces
A banquet hall
Pedestrian Walkway.

If Virgin Trains still selects Fort Pierce, Matteson’s plan would contribute 1 1/2 acres to Virgin Trains.

City leaders also say there are other suitable properties in the area for a train.