According to sources familiar with the matter, the 100-year-old building on the working waterfront on Indian River Drive in Sebastian may have to be torn down over safety issues.
Crab E Bills manager Heather Quigley told Sebastian Daily that city workers showed up Thursday morning and moved the dining tables outside.
While the eatery is still open right now, the city is trying to keep the seating area outdoors for safety reasons. They wouldn’t go into details.
Working Waterfront Project
On Wednesday, we interviewed Vice Mayor Jim Hill to talk about the future of the building. Hill has been involved with the working waterfront project since it began approximately 13 years ago.
“Council is going to have some decisions going forward as to what we’re going to do with that property, whether we’re going to have a major renovation project down there to try and bring that old building back together, or whether we’re going to put a new building there that will provide for a fish market, observation decks, museum, and all those different things. Those are going to be decisions that Council will be making over the next several months. This project is probably going to take an additional three years, but it’s a project that’s going to last forever in Sebastian,” Hill told Sebastian Daily.
Hill emphasized that the city is weighing all options at the moment. However, he added that the working waterfront will always be an area where the heritage of Sebastian will be protected. You can watch the entire interview on our YouTube channel.
Grant Funding from Stan Mayfield Working Waterfront Program
The building was already 100 years old when the city purchased it in 2008 using grant funds from the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfront program. The city wanted to save local history by purchasing the property.
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In addition, the funds were used to restore the building to include a working wholesale fish market and eatery with a waterfront museum featuring the history of fishing in Sebastian. There were other improvements in 2015 to restore the fish piers. The city then installed a public toilet facility in 2017. Recently, the parking lot used for commercial fishermen was reconstructed for loading purposes.
The Stan Mayfield Working Waterfront grant funds are awarded to local communities to purchase land that facilitates commercial fishing. They are also used to promote and educate the public about the historical heritage of Florida’s traditional working waterfronts.
Hill said there are many ways to pay for the renovations or a new facility with minimal impact on the local taxpayer. For example, the building is in the CRA, and there are funds available. The CRA has its own tax from businesses used for improvements or redevelopment projects.
According to Hill, there are a tremendous amount of grant funds available from the State of Florida and several other grants that can be used for educational purposes and to help promote fishing.
The Future of Crab E Bills
It’s uncertain what the future of Crab E Bills will be during any renovations or a rebuilding project. Either way, both the eatery and the city have said the building is in dire need of repairs.
The City Council will be addressing the issue in the upcoming meetings.