The Manatee Pocket Gateway is a pedestrian plaza overlooking the Manatee Pocket in Port Salerno, Florida. This public art project’s objective was to improve an unsightly concrete bridge that overlooks one of the regions most magnificent inlets.
The original project was a proposed artist installation onto a concrete jersey barrier. This concrete barrier blocked views to the water and access to the adjacent businesses. The artist proposal selected by the community created an opportunity to do more than just an installation. This provided an opportunity to transform this small area to reflect the character and vision shared by the community.
With the coordination of the the county’s engineering department and the arts in public places coordinator the community was able to maximize the impact of this placemaking project. The result was not only the aesthetic improvements, this partnership provided a greater impact to the community. The adjacent business owners saw a 25% increase in sales upon project installation, and have expanded their waterside dining area.
The project includes stingray-shaped shade structures, benches, lighted bollards that replicate light houses, and pedestals and pavers inlaid with fish. An artistic railing depicting swimming manatees serves as the signature piece of the project. The railing was created by local artist Sue Lampert in partnership with the Arts in Public Places program.
The Manatee Pocket Gateway is a prime example of commercial revitalization through public investment. This project highlights that urbanism expands beyond the boundaries of a single site or project. These projects are an investment that can positively contribute to the greater community.
This project has been featured in the American Planning Association Planning Magazine. This project is now the model for public/private partnerships with Martin County’s Arts and Public Places program.