OLDSMAR — Beimei Kohler envisions white petals brushing the pavement. If her landlord approves, the co-owner of Aki Sushi on Tampa Road plans to build an arbor in her parking lot and plant climbing jasmine.
The move is consistent with the city's Tampa Road Corridor Plan, which seeks, among other roadway improvement initiatives, to beautify highly visible businesses along Oldsmar's main drag.
"I love the idea — it'll bring more people outdoors," said Kohler, who opened the Japanese restaurant last year. "It's good for me, good for customers and good for the city."
Through ongoing conversations with business and property owners, Oldsmar officials hope to soon define a coherent "vision" for the eight-lane commercial corridor, said Marie Dauphinais, the city's director of planning and redevelopment. Included in the tentative plan: new sidewalks, bike trails and landscaped medians.
"We want it to be distinctive, more visually interesting than just pavement," Dauphinais said. "We want people to look at this area as a place to stop and eat or shop. It will be pedestrian friendly."
The Tampa Road makeover began about six years ago, when the Oldsmar City Council identified the much-traveled link between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties as a "major issue" to improve. Strip malls on some blocks were aging poorly, Dauphinais said. By 2010, an amendment to the land development code along Tampa Road inspired more neutral business colors, auburn stucco roofing and decorative greenery.
Now, officials believe further polishing the corridor will attract more quality businesses and bring an air of prestige to the North Pinellas city of nearly 14,000. About 55,000 people drive the stretch daily.
"We want to make an impact on the way people see the city as they drive through. The way business owners see it," Dauphinais said. "Good development brings better development."
Currently, Dauphinais said, there are no provisions in city code for architectural standards — including building elevations and color schemes — along Tampa Road, and some blocks need more design consistency. Officials are working to promote an "architecturally harmonious" roadside, she said.
"It's not going to happen in a year or two," Dauphinais said. "More like 20 years."
Jennifer Clark, co-owner of Office & Flooring Worx, chose to paint her building a golden beige when she opened at 5000 Tampa Road. Garish colors, she learned, were code-prohibited. She ordered magnolia trees to adorn the lawn.
"When we were going through the process, it was overwhelming at first. It felt like overkill," Clark, 41, said of meeting city development and landscape standards. "But now I think it's great. It keeps up with the up and coming."
Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224. To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters.