The Port District: Port St. Lucie’s New Waterfront Recreation Area

Port St. Lucie’s newest waterfront recreation area, The Port District, offers locals a new way to enjoy the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. The St. Lucie River is an essential part of the city’s history. The beautiful river is an inspiring space for locals and sets the city apart. For many years, residents and local officials have thought of unique ways to use the river so that more people can enjoy it.

Initially, the city debated whether to turn the area into a multifamily residential area with a hotel. The City Council decided that the best use of the property would be a public space with river access. Local officials decided that a Port District consisting of family-friendly spaces, restaurants, and an impressive boardwalk would be an ideal reinvention of the parcel along the riverfront. The Port District was designed to celebrate Port St. Lucie’s natural beauty and character while offering spaces for locals to enjoy the scenery. Local officials hoped the Port District would “provide a sense of place for everyone.”

Mayor Shannon Martin hopes that the Port District will provide additional attractions and be an anchor in the community. She stated that the new Port District helps to “put the port in Port St. Lucie.” Before the new Port District, only a handful of spots were available to locals who wanted to enjoy the St. Lucie River. Now, the Port District gives everyone in the city easy access to the riverfront.

The Port District has been years in the making. The master plan for the district was approved in November 2015. The district comprises almost ten acres, encompassing the area south of Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens to Lyngate Park. The city was able to use the 9.75-acre tract resourcefully, creating space for a children’s playground, a large boardwalk, historic buildings of significance, public parking, pavilions, event space, kayak, canoe launch, and room for a waterfront restaurant, which is still being developed. Below is more information about The Port District: Port St. Lucie’s new waterfront recreation area.

Why Did Port St. Lucie Create the Port District?

The city approved and created the Port District to provide an area for locals to connect. Port St. Lucie does not have a designated downtown, and officials believe spaces like the Port District can offset the city’s need for a defined downtown area. In the past, Port St. Lucie tried to construct a downtown area. In the 1980s, the city planned to create a centralized shopping area through the Village Green Shopping Center Initiative. Many obstacles stopped that process. However, the desire for a downtown lingered among many residents and local officials, which resulted in a proposed City Center.

The City Center project aims to create a vibrant, walkable destination featuring retail, restaurants, and residences. Port St. Lucie is still contemplating making a cohesive and realistic development plan to offer a walkable space in eastern Port St. Lucie. For now, the newly opened Port District provides the city with an extra space of charm and connectedness.

Pioneer Park Playground

Little ones can tap into their inner explorer at Pioneer Park. The playground is mostly suitable for children ages 2 to 12 and features a splash pad, climbing jungle, and music station. Myriad play areas are separated by age group, as well as a Mommy & Me swing, toddler swing, and ADA-accessible stations.

pioneer park playground port st lucie

Source: City of PSL

The Port District’s Riverfront Food Garden

The Port District’s restaurant and dining spaces are also highly anticipated. The city hired Miami developer PIII Investment LLC to create a river food garden that locals and tourists could enjoy. The river food garden concept will have a full-service anchor restaurant surrounded by smaller food and beverage venues. The dining hub will offer sustainably sourced local food and a farm-to-table experience.

The developer plans to construct a few local restaurant options, including pizza, taco, and seafood restaurants, a tiki bar, a bakery, and a coffee and ice cream shop. A canopy will be built around all the restaurants so people can walk in the shade from place to place.  The developer also works with an award-winning chef, Zak Pelaccio, to get insight into the menu and restaurant operations.  The developer’s president said they were attracted to the site because of its natural beauty and waterfront views. He explained that, typically, big cities attract high-quality projects like dining hubs. Port St. Lucie’s unique location on the river made it an ideal place to create the development.

The cost for the restaurant hub is $39 million. The dining hub, which is called Dining Docks, will offer both indoor and outdoor dining. Construction is currently underway and expected to be completed by late 2024.

port district restaurant site port st lucie

Source: City of PSL

The Port District Boardwalk

Fishing is permitted at the Port District. The city provides a space for recreational fishing at the boardwalk segment between Bridge Plaza and the Banyan Tree. The St. Lucie River is an excellent place to fish, and the North Fork portion of the river at the Port District is a great spot to catch tarpon.

Those who want to spend time on the river will find a canoe and kayak launch. The Port District’s Boardwalk is open 24 hours a day and is an incredible place to see the river and Florida wetlands. The boardwalk offers thousands of feet to explore.

riverwalk in port st lucie

The Peacock House and Peacock Lodge

Two historic homes are a part of the Port District: the Peacock House, built in 1917, and the Peacock Lodge, built in 1952. The homes will serve as meeting spaces, offices, and a gift shop. The homes are named after Oliver L. Peacock Sr. and his son, Sonny, the founding fathers of Port St. Lucie. The Peacock family owned a 4,600-acre ranch in St. Lucie West. The historic homes peacock house and lodge are considered “time capsules of the city’s heritage.”

peacock house peacock lodge

Source: City of PSL 

How Much Did the Port District Cost?

The Port District was an expensive endeavor. The project cost $12 million, not including the price tag for the restaurant hub. The city covered the cost of the Port by using the St. Lucie Parks Impact Fee Fund.

A portion of the project also included relocating and restoring the historic homes. The State of Florida partially funded that part of the project through a special grant, and the Florida Inland Navigation District helped pay for the extension of the Riverwalk. The city also plans to open trails surrounding the Port District.

Designed for the Treasure Coast

Port St. Lucie is the largest city on the Treasure Coast. It’s Florida’s sixth-largest city and will soon be number five, overtaking St. Petersburg, Florida. Port St. Lucie’s goal is to be an unmissable destination in the heart of the Treasure Coast, and officials believe the Port District will boost its visibility.

The Port District also hopes to boost tourism in the area. Local officials considered residents when creating the plans for the Port District but also considered how the space might attract people from all over the state and country. The Port St. Lucie city manager stated that he and other officials dreamed the destination could be for the whole Treasure Coast. Port St. Lucie’s Port District is 2454 SE Westmoreland Blvd., Port St. Lucie, Florida.

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