Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

Enthusiasm grows for 34th Street South Corridor Plan

ST. PETERSBURG

The adulation gave Mike Silva goose bumps. Who knew that a Dunkin' Donuts shop could elicit such emotion?

But for the crowd gathered Tuesday night to kick off revitalization efforts for the southernmost end of 34th Street, Silva's popular coffee shop epitomized their hopes.

Any reference to Dunkin' Donuts brought applause from the people who had assembled from surrounding neighborhoods, including Pinellas Point, Broadwater, Lakewood, Bayway Isles and Patriot Square condominiums.

"That was so cool," Silva said the next day.

"We wanted to be on the south side because we saw the opportunity,'' he said. "Every week it's been getting a little bit busier."

The coffee shop's success is an encouraging sign for what is being referred to as the 34th Street South Corridor Plan, which aims to increase retail and redevelopment opportunities, boost profits and give residents more places to shop and eat. The area also hopes to create a distinctive district.

The targeted 1.5-mile stretch runs from 30th Avenue, with Ceridian and Walmart at the northern boundary, to 54th Avenue, with Publix and Maximo Marina the most prominent businesses to the south.

City staff hope to have a plan ready to present to the City Council on Dec. 19, with implementation to begin shortly after.

"It's an aggressive schedule," said Tom Ando, president of the Broadwater Civic Association.

"We've been waiting a long time for it,'' he said. "The turnout and the enthusiasm of the crowd says it all. The area has been underserved and the people want more. "

Council member Steve Kornell said the effort started with neighborhood leaders with whom he has been meeting monthly since he was elected in 2009.

"What I heard from people in my district over and over again was they wanted development on 34th Street, especially restaurants," Kornell said.

He later took his concerns to the city staff and fellow council members. "The city has fully embraced it and is fully behind it," he said.

Welcoming the crowd of about 250 people at the St. Petersburg College Allstate Center on Tuesday, Mayor Bill Foster called it "an incredible turnout."

Council chairman Karl Nurse emphasized the urgency to get the plan going.

With the economy on the upswing, he said, "it is critical that we catch this wave."

Council member Wengay Newton, who started his talk with a prayer, noted that recent redistricting had made much of the area part of his district and spoke of the need to put more emphasis "on this part of the city."

The ambitious plan, which could include landscaping, crosswalks, signs that designate the new district, new pedestrian and street lighting, and handicapped ramps, will need money.

"Funding for the improvements will either come from the city's general revenue fund or the Florida Department of Transportation," said Gary Jones, senior planner in the city's economic development department.

Kornell said he will not wait until the plan is ready before asking that funds be set aside in the city's capital improvements budget for some projects.

A key will be selling the area, he said.

"I think an overall theme, marketing and branding is needed … telling people what is actually here," Kornell said.

"Those of us who actually live there, we know what wonderful attributes the neighborhood has,'' he said. "It's very diverse, near to the water. Once businesses realize their opportunity here, they are going to come."

Jodi Davis, president of the Greater Pinellas Point Civic Association, and Judy Ellis, Lakewood Estates Civic Association president, also addressed the crowd last week.

Davis said development of the 34th Street S corridor will benefit surrounding neighborhoods.

"I think the No. 1 thing we have to offer is our amazing demographics, our diversity No. 1, accessibility to the highway, two colleges. I really believe we have the demographics, income-wise to support any kind of businesses," she said.

"Really our No. 1 goal is to create the business association to spread the word, to improve the retail experience and basically create a new identity,'' she said. "A lot of that false perception of the south side is just a myth and it needs to end here. As the project grows, it's going to snowball."

Kathy Kindt, owner of Chic Boutique and Art, 5004 34th St. S, sits on the steering committee.

"My hope for this plan is to build up our businesses, improve the aesthetics of 34th Street, hopefully draw in new, diverse businesses. Having the city sponsoring this, that's a positive thing," the retired critical care nurse said.

A formal plan is important, Jones said.

"This will be a marketing piece to show people and developers outside the area that there's a commitment from all parties to improve the area and to share the vision. But ultimately, it is a blueprint for this area that we can all follow. … We are trying to create a place, create a district, create something. When you say Ybor City, you know where it is, what it is about."

Silva, who owns two other area Dunkin' Donut stores, says his store at 3850 34th St. S is unique.

"Even the customer base is a little different. They are excited that you're there. That makes us part of the family," he said. "I will do whatever I can do as a business owner to make this area more appealing."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

Comments
Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Lightning Round 2 playoff tickets on sale Monday

Single-game tickets for the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinal series go on sale to the general public at 1 p.m. Monday at nhl.com/lightning/tickets.The Lightning plays the winner of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series. Game 6 of that series is Monda...
Updated: 1 hour ago
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz surrounding this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the record six taken in the first round in 1983, a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.Th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

Rays are suddenly swinging hot bats, but will it last?

ST. PETERSBURG — Good pitching and hitting go hand in glove, but the Rays did not look like a team that could swing the bats very well until this completed homestand.In their series sweep over the Twins, Tampa Bay scored 8, 10 and 8 runs. ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Rays-Twins

Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Rays-Twins

–Yonny Chirinos may be the Rays fourth starter, but it seems to be in name only. He was lifted after pitching 4 2/3 innings against the Twin on Sunday, the shortest start of his career and his second-shortest appearance.  "Going into the g...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays’ Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

Rays’ Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

ST. PETERSBURG — With every swing, there is a chance Carlos Gomez is going to do something extraordinary with the baseball bat.He may swing so violently that he spins himself into the ground as if he were an oil drill. Or, you could see him sna...
Updated: 4 hours ago

nationwideTravelers face delays as jet engines inspectedScores of Southwest Airlines travelers were facing delays or cancellations Sunday due to emergency inspections following the mid-air explosion of an engine on one of the airline’s 737s last week...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Waffle House hero says shooter would’ve had ‘to work to kill me’; another crude Theta Tau frat video surfaces at Syracuse; more in U.S. news

Waffle House hero says shooter would’ve had ‘to work to kill me’; another crude Theta Tau frat video surfaces at Syracuse; more in U.S. news

TennesseeShooter had ‘to work to kill me’The man who wrestled the gun away from the nearly naked Waffle House shooter in Nashville said Sunday if he were going to die, the gunman would "have to work to kill me." Police and Waffle House CEO Walter Ehm...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Sun., April 22, midday:2-2 7-3-9 4-4-6-8e_SRit3-8-8-6-0Sun., April 22, evening:6-2 8-6-0 8-3-9-8e_SR...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Islamic State suicide bomber kills 57 in Afghan capital

Islamic State suicide bomber kills 57 in Afghan capital

Associated PressKABUL, Afghanistan — An Islamic State suicide bomber carried out an attack at a voter registration center in the capital Kabul on Sunday, killing 57 people and wounding more than 100 others, said officials from the Afghan interior and...
Updated: 5 hours ago