For a coastal community, public beachfront is among its most valuable assets in terms of community identity and economic activity. That’s true for Gulf Shores, whose public beachfront area at the end of Highway 59 and Beach Boulevard is being revitalized.
Gulf Shores has developed a master plan for redevelopment of the beachfront area known as Gulf Place. Gulf Place Revitalization calls for developing the public beach area into a safe, accessible and family-friendly destination that serves various activities and acts as the vehicle for economic development.
The time to revitalize this important section of Gulf Shores has certainly come.
“This is the only comprehensive beachfront revitalization project to take place in Gulf Shores over the last 50 plus years,” says Andy Bauer, director of planning and zoning for Gulf Shores.
Atlanta-based TSW Planners Architects Landscape Architects is designing the revitalization project. Phase I was completed in June of 2017. This portion of the project totals at $4.5 million and includes enhanced and expanded parking, a 20- foot wide beach boardwalk, and new seating and shade structures. Additionally, this first phase includes renovated public restrooms, extensive coastal landscaping and a new beach safety headquarters.
Phase 2 construction is now underway and is slated for completion in April. This portion of the project totals at $4.67 million and includes another 20-foot wide beach boardwalk, children’s playground, more seating and shade structures and a large green space for public events. This phase also includes improved pedestrian access, improved traffic flow, drop-off locations and environmentally friendly lighting.
The $4 million Highway 182 Roadway (Beach Boulevard) improvements are also part of the project and should be completed by fall 2018.
This public beachfront area is about a half mile, but only part of it is accessible. The revitalization project will expand the entire half-mile beachfront that is separated by Highway 182. Sidewalks, bike lanes, and pedestrian walkways and crosswalks and handicapped accessibility are also part of the Gulf Place Revitalization.
Improving connectivity between the beachfront and the downtown area is another important part of the plan. Bryan Bays, director of landscape architecture with TSW, said the master plan is designed to “bring more of the beach to the downtown.”
Sustainable and low-impact development strategies are also a major component of the project, including storm-water management and reuse. Beach dune restoration will be incorporated into the design to provide habitat and protection from storm surge.
Image 1: Public access and pedestrian safety are critical to the economic success of the Gulf Shores area. In an effort to activate, revitalize and efficiently manage this important community resource, the City has developed a master plan for the redevelopment of the beachfront known as “Gulf Place.”
Image 2: For the first time in more than 50 years, the city of Gulf Shores is implementing a revitalization of its beachfront that is designed to transform the beach into a more welcoming environment for locals and tourists.
Image 3: Phase 1 of the Gulf Shores revitalization project is completed, which includes the west side. Phase 2, the middle section, is expected to be finished in April, and Phase 3, the east side, is scheduled to be completed in April 2019.
Image 4: An important part of the Gulf Place Revitalization project is to create a better connection between the downtown and beachfront. Improvements include a public boardwalk, public green space, walking paths, shade structures, restrooms and attractive landscaping.
Image 5: The beachfront property under renovation offers a variety of activities and is home to festivals and sports events. In addition, this area provides access to dining, shopping and other tourism-supported businesses.
*Article Written By Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of The City of Gulf Shores and TSW Planners Architects Landscape Architects