For more than a decade, the city has focused on Bay Drive, near Largo's historic downtown, hoping to spark redevelopment.
Tuesday, city leaders reviewed the latest draft of a plan aimed at turning the area into a lively hub, with lots of homes, shops and entertainment.
The updated plan would allow buildings as tall as eight stories in mixed-use areas. Now, most structures there are one or two stories high.
Previous presentations posed the possibility of even taller buildings.
The plan also lists allowable and prohibited facilities in the district. Commissioner Mary Gray Black and other commissioners were concerned that the current draft allowed crematories. Others were concerned the plan allowed cell phone towers in all areas of the district.
Mayor Pat Gerard suggested prohibiting the towers in residential areas.
One of the main challenges is Bay Drive's popularity as an east-west thoroughfare. While traffic increases exposure to businesses, it also makes it difficult for pedestrians to navigate north and south through the district.
Several improvements, such as accented crosswalks and refuge medians, are planned to make the area more pedestrian friendly.
The original West Bay Drive redevelopment plan, adopted in 1997, led to the creation of West Bay Village, a $12 million project with more than 54 townhomes, restaurants and shops. But since then, there haven't been any major mixed-use projects.
The redevelopment district includes about 330 acres and spans Bay Drive from west of the Pinellas Trail to Highland Avenue. It encompasses several blocks north and south of Bay Drive.
The new plan defines four key regions in the district:
• The mixed-use region would allow a mix of homes, shops and offices. If certain conditions are met, it would allow eight-story buildings and the highest densities in the district, up to 50 units per acre.
• The medical arts regions would focus chiefly on office and commercial development around Largo Medical Center. Buildings as tall as eight stories also would be allowed if certain standards are met.
• The city home region would allow multifamily residential development. Structures as tall as five stories could be built if certain criteria are met. This region also would serve as a buffer between mixed use developments and single-family homes.
• The neighborhood residential region is intended to protect existing single-family homes. The region would allow accessory dwelling units, attached or detached from homes.
In two weeks, Largo will hold a meeting to get feedback from the community. Suggestions from commissioners and the public will be incorporated into the plan.
A final draft could come before commissioners around mid year.