HOBE SOUND, Fla. — Officials in Martin County hope a makeover in the heart of Hobe Sound will make it more appealing to residents and draw people to area businesses.
The project, nearing completion after 18 months, is redeveloping Bridge Road and transforming it into a pedestrian-friendly main street.
Bridge Road connects U.S. 1 and A1A and forms the main street of the town.
County Commissioner Harold Jenkins said plans to enhance this stretch of road goes back decades. The goal of the $3 million project will not erase Hobe Sound's small-town charm.
"This enhances the quality of life for everybody. We're not interested in having someone come up from Miami to go to one of our restaurants, but we'd like to have a sidewalk we can walk to our restaurant," Jenkins said.
Developers believe a streetscape improvement, including trees, sidewalks, and modifying existing on-street parking, makes the area more pedestrian-friendly.
"We're trying to create a better sense of community by a walkable, sustainable downtown Main Street," Jenkins said.
At Village Bike on Bridge Road, the pandemic actually didn't hurt their business.
"[There has been] a huge influx of new cyclists and people upgrading their bikes, so we have seen a massive increase in their sales," said Brian Wesson of Village Bike.
One thing that residents and visitors are going to have to get used to is how to park. Signs posted along Bridge Road instruct drivers it's not parallel parking but backing in.
"[It's] much safer on a lot of different levels. It's now county standard for any future on-street parking," Jenkins said.
Wesson said they have been fortunate to have a parking lot in the back of their business. They are just waiting for customers to return out front.
"We've become accustomed to staring at it, but we're going to be happy when we have a show front at the front of the store we can be proud of," Wesson said.
Work should be wrapping up in the coming weeks.
Click here to learn more about the project.