Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg may spend nearly $700,000 on BayWalk, including boosting security

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Baker unveiled a nearly $700,000 plan Tuesday to enhance security and upgrade the sidewalks and other areas around BayWalk, the city's struggling downtown entertainment complex.

The biggest step, and perhaps the most controversial, would call for turning over the public sidewalk fronting BayWalk to the complex's private, for-profit owners.

BayWalk's owners say they need control of the sidewalk on the north side of Second Avenue N to keep away loiterers and, at times, protesters.

The idea, Baker said, is to help reverse a perception that BayWalk is not safe for families.

"We have to be aggressive to respond to the community's concerns over security," Baker said. "There's a perception of security issues at BayWalk. We have to address that perception, whether it's the reality or not."

The retail and restaurant complex, which opened to great fanfare in 2000, has been plagued by misfortune in the past two years and now sits more than half vacant.

The city's investment would be coupled with an infusion of as much as $6 million from BayWalk's owners — CW Capital of Rockville, Md. — said the local property manager, Thomas McGeachy of Ciminelli Real Estate Services.

The private money largely would go to attract new restaurant and retail tenants, McGeachy said. He would not name prospective tenants, but said in a letter to the city that he hopes to relaunch the complex with new tenants in six months to a year.

The city's investment includes new lighting in the BayWalk parking garage and a security office on its ground floor.

The walkway between the garage and the BayWalk complex has received new lighting. BayWalk's retail manager plans to add vendors to the space during prime business hours.

Besides handing over control of the north sidewalk of Second Avenue N, the city also plans to create a security center inside the BayWalk complex itself.

McGeachy said the security enhancements are critical to rebranding BayWalk and refilling its vacant storefront.

"It's an issue that needs to be overcome before tenants lease space," McGeachy said. "This package is what we've been waiting for. You can talk about it all you want, but until it's on paper and it's out in the public, it's difficult to get prospective tenants to believe it's really going to happen."

And the city would build better pedestrian connections between the BayWalk complex and the retail and restaurant corridor on Beach Drive to the east and to the restaurants and shops to the south.

More than 40 percent of the $657,000 program would be paid for with a federal energy grant, Baker said. The rest of the money would come from existing city funds for downtown projects, city senior economic development administrator Rick Mussett said.

Parts of the plan depend on City Council approval; others are already being implemented, Baker said. The City Council is scheduled to consider the plan Aug. 6.

St. Petersburg may spend nearly $700,000 on BayWalk, including boosting security 07/14/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 6:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning shifts search for defense to free agency

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — As much as he tried, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman left the weekend's draft without acquiring another top-four defenseman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  2. Half of Florida lawmakers fail or nearly fail review of support for public records

    State Roundup

    WEST PALM BEACH — Half of Florida's legislators failed or nearly failed in a review of their support for public records and meetings given by Florida newspapers and an open-government group after this year's legislative sessions.

    State Senator Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton (left) and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran ranked on opposite sides of the spectrum in an analysis of support for open records. Galvano scored a B-minus and Corcoran scored a D-plus.
[Times file photo]
  3. Yale dean on leave over offensive Yelp reviews leaves post

    Bizarre News

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale University dean who was placed on leave over offensive reviews she posted on Yelp has left her position at the Ivy League institution, school officials said Tuesday.

  4. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]