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Former Mayor Bill Foster returns to St. Petersburg

Bill Foster is back in town — for good.

The former mayor of St. Petersburg, who began working at a Vero Beach law firm after his defeat in last year's mayoral election, announced on Facebook he was returning to the Sunshine City.

That means he's set up shop once again at his downtown law firm on Fourth Street N, which he ran for years with his dad.

"It's a good thing," Foster said. "We put the band back together."

Foster said a few things caused him to return. The owner of the east-coast firm had a health scare earlier this year that caused him to re-evaluate expanding the business into the Tampa Bay area, Foster said.

And Foster already had been commuting back to this side of the state on weekends.

Foster said he doesn't plan to be a stranger about town now that he is back. He said he will still be a community activist and wants to get re-engaged with the business chamber.

"Being in Vero Beach was a blessing at the time," Foster said. "It was a nice place to decompress after my term. . . . I'll always be a St. Pete guy."

Housing programs get a boost

St. Petersburg council member Karl Nurse found a clever way last week to get more money for two housing programs he is passionate about.

He persuaded his colleagues to agree to split the proceeds from a recent real estate deal between the popular Rebates for Rehabs program and a fund that allows the city to demolish decrepit homes.

The money — $290,000 in all — comes from the sale of three parcels of land at 2201 First Ave. N, 2245 First Ave. N and 2163 First Ave N to developer Nick Pavonetti, a deal approved by the City Council last week.

On Nurse's suggestion, the council decided to designate about two-thirds of the proceeds from the sale ($194,000) for code compliance-related demolitions and one third ($94,000) to the rebates program.

Money for both programs was getting used quickly this year, Nurse said.

According to city documents, Pavonetti plans to build 16 townhomes on the first two lots. The project will be called Grand Kenwood Cityhomes.

Transportation chief departs

Joe Kubicki, St. Petersburg's transportation director, has cleaned out his office and left City Hall for the retirement life.

"It's time for me to have some time off and do some travelling with my wife," Kubicki said. "That's what's motivating me."

Kubicki, 62, joined the city more than 10 years ago after a career in the private sector. He said he's been contemplating retirement for a year, but promised former Mayor Bill Foster he'd stay through the end of 2013.

After Mayor Rick Kriseman took office in January, Kubicki said he agreed to stay for a few more months to ensure a smooth transition.

Former parking manager Evan Mory will take Kubicki's spot.

Kubicki stressed his departure does not have anything to do with the recent shuttering of the city's red light camera program, of which he'd been an advocate. He said he's just ready to move on.

"There are no sour grapes," he said. "Mostly it's just to slow down and enjoy the grandkids."

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@tampabay.com, (727) 893-8643 or on Twitter@cornandpotatoes.

Former Mayor Bill Foster returns to St. Petersburg 05/08/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 8, 2014 12:54pm]
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