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St. Pete Beach to present downtown revitalization plan

ST. PETE BEACH — Revitalization of the city's downtown core, and in particular Corey Avenue, will again be debated during a special workshop session Thursday.

Newly elected commissioner Lorraine Huhn will sit in the audience, but just a week later she will join a commission that is trying to carefully find a solution for the city's lagging business sector.

Huhn, who was strongly supported by merchants and major hotels, is on record that she wants to promote a revitalized tourist and business environment in the city.

Huhn, who won a three-way election in January to the District 1 seat, was again victorious Tuesday in a runoff against incumbent Al Halpern.

Marvin Shavlan won re-election to his commission seat in January.

What they and the other members of the commission will debate Thursday is a staff proposal to reroute traffic in the city's downtown core.

The goal is to make that area more pedestrian-friendly and bring traffic into the Corey Avenue business district.

"The plan will help revitalize the downtown as a walkable, bike-able, live, work, play destination," City Manager Mike Bonfield said in a release advertising the workshop.

The proposed improvements include street beautification, landscaping, additional on-street parking and enhancements for both pedestrians and vehicular traffic.

Bonfield stressed that the idea is still in early planning and called for residents, property owners and businesses to learn about the proposed project and participate in its planning.

A detailed downtown traffic analysis, including graphics and elevation views, will be unveiled Thursday to show the public just how a proposed one-way network of streets in the Corey Avenue area might affect traffic, pedestrians and businesses.

Some businesses fear that the one-way traffic routing will make it harder for their customers to find them. And some residents already petitioned the commission to oppose to the idea of multiple lanes of one-way traffic in their neighborhood.

The traffic plan calls for a circular, counterclockwise, one-way traffic pattern encompassing two blocks bounded by 75th Avenue on the north, Gulf Boulevard on the west, 73rd Avenue on the south and Blind Pass Road on the east.

The streets surround the city's downtown retail district along Corey Avenue.

City officials say the new pattern would improve both the flow and safety of traffic at the 75th Avenue-Blind Pass intersection, eliminate the current weaving of traffic lanes on 75th Avenue, provide an additional 60 on-street parking spaces along Gulf Boulevard, beautify the downtown streetscape, increase pedestrian safety and, perhaps most important, accelerate economic development in the downtown area.

The workshop will be held at 6 p.m. at the city's Community Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Ave.

St. Pete Beach to present downtown revitalization plan 03/17/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 17, 2012 5:31am]

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