TREASURE ISLAND — Redevelopment rules for the city's downtown core commercial area came a step closer to reality last week.
The new Downtown Special Area Redevelopment Plan initially approved by the City Commission on Tuesday must still be reviewed by the county and the state before the commission gives its final approval — a vote that is not expected to occur for at least another two months.
When and if that happens, the city will have a new land use category, Planned Redevelopment-Mixed Use, that would allow buildings in the downtown core currently zoned commercial general, or CG, to include both commercial and residential space.
CG zoning currently allows residential use only by special exception and only up to 15 units per acre. It does not allow mixed-use projects.
The proposed new land use category would have two subdistricts:
• The 11.4-acre "heart" of the city's downtown encompassing properties on either side of 107th Avenue.
• And 9.29 acres along the eastern side of Gulf Boulevard between 104th and 106th avenues and between 108th and 112th avenues.
Residential-only redevelopment in the area would be prohibited.
"I picture commercial on the bottom and townhouses on the top," said Commissioner Phil Collins.
The 20.7-acre area affected by the new plan includes properties east of Gulf Boulevard, including commercial properties north to the Bayside Inn and south to Publix, and bordered by 108th and 104th avenues N.
It does not include, as proposed several years ago, the city-owned waterfront where the City Hall, police and public works department are now located.
Nor does it apply to the community center and city park on 106th Avenue N or to apartments along 104th Avenue.
City Planner Lynn Rosetti stressed that the proposed plan could be changed in the future if Treasure Island decided it wanted to move the city facilities or make other changes.
Mayor Bob Minning made a point about height. "There is no proposed change in height in what is being proposed for downtown redevelopment," he said. "We need to be sure everybody is aware of that. The only proposed increase in density is in the core commercial area."
Proposed residential density in the core area would increase to 24 permanent units per acre and 60 transient (hotel) units per acre.
Once the plan is fully approved by the county, state and city, Treasure Island voters will be asked to ratify subsequent land development regulations implementing that density increase.
The city began studying how to encourage redevelopment of the downtown core in 2000 when it received a $300,000 matching federal grant for streetscaping and pedestrian improvements to the downtown core business district.
A formal downtown redevelopment plan was adopted in 2006.
Changes to a plan proposed by consultants were reviewed by the city's Planning Board for the past year. It has unanimously recommended City Commission approval.
"This area lacks a cohesive identity and sense of place to attract residents and visitors alike," states a staff report prepared last month for commission review. "In its current form, the downtown core is better designed as a place to drive through than seen as a destination."