Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Vision for St. Pete Beach downtown includes one-way streets

ST. PETE BEACH — The growing vision for downtown's future may not include high-rise buildings, but it does have an eclectic mix of broader, shaded and landscaped pedestrian walkways, restaurants with outside dining, and new mixed-use residences and retail shops.

"A vision is not a master plan. It is intended to be an inspiration, optimism for the future — what you want the city to be five, 10, 15 years down the road," Susan Harden, a project manager with the consulting firm Michael Baker Jr. Inc., told the commission Thursday.

After meeting with nearly 100 residents and business owners the previous evening, Harden acknowledged the firm may have "missed the mark" on some things, but overall received positive reactions to many of the group's ideas.

What the city seems to want is a colorful mix of architectural styles that work together to encapsulate an ambiance that is both upscale and relaxed, that says "beach" to visitors and that offers activities and spaces that will welcome both pedestrians and bicyclists.

Apparently essential to the plan is a road redesign, dubbed the couplet, redirecting traffic in a circular, counter-clockwise one-way pattern from 75th Avenue on the north, to Gulf Boulevard on the west, 73rd Avenue on the south and Blind Pass Road on the east.

The couplet not only will actually enhance traffic flow, but also will add more than 100 parking spaces and shorten the distance pedestrians have to walk to cross major intersections, according to consultant Jerry Dabkowski.

Some vision ideas can be started within a few months, while others may take years and will require cooperation of private property owners, Harden said. A final "vision" will be presented to the city in late May.

Harden said public investments in infrastructure often lead to significant economic growth.

In West Palm Beach, Harden said, a $10 million investment in traffic calming, new public spaces with fountains and art led to a downtown boom in new businesses, a tripling of sales tax revenues, major building renovations and property tax values that jumped from $6 a square foot to up to $100 a square foot in just five years.

"Last night might have started more contentious than we would have wanted, but it ended in a good way," said City Manager Mike Bonfield.

One concept will not be included in the final plan — a high-rise hotel or condominium.

"We heard you,'' Harden said. "Higher scale buildings will not fly."

Ideas that did seem to resonate with residents, businesses and the commission included wide, landscaped streets with cutouts for outside dining, an expanded park on the Gulf of Mexico and residential and retail development on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Harden stressed that good urban design promotes exercise by encouraging people to walk or bike and increases the social connection among neighbors.

She suggested the city consider decorative monuments at the entrance to the downtown district to provide visual gateways for visitors, as well as involving the city's art community in designing distinctive benches, bike racks and lighting.

"We have to start somewhere and this gives us a plan," Commissioner Terri Finnerty said.

Bonfield stressed the vision plan will become a living document that can be changed over time.

Mayor Maria Lowe stressed that the plan is not tied to the city's embattled comprehensive plan and contains many items that can be implemented immediately to improve pedestrian and public safety, to support economic growth and to become an incubator for citywide redevelopment.

"When we improve our properties, we improve the tax assessed values and increase our ad valorem taxes,'' Lowe said. "This vision brings value."

Vision for St. Pete Beach downtown includes one-way streets 04/01/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 1, 2014 5:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Danny Rolling killed five in Gainesville 27 years ago this week

    Criminal

    The following story appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on October 26, 2006, the day after Danny Rollings was put to death. Also included are photos covering the period from the time of the murders to the day of Rollings execution.

    Rolling Executed

  2. Hernando commissioners propose tax-rate reduction as budget talks continue

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The typical budget battle between the Hernando County Commission and Sheriff Al Nienhuis has largely been averted this summer, except for a dust-up over how the sheriff has accounted for federal inmate money. But a minor skirmish did break out this week.

    Hernando County Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes has suggested a small rollback in the proposed property tax rate for the 2017-18 fiscal year and proposes that it be equally shared by the county's operations and the sheriff.
  3. Trigaux: As Florida seeks top 10 status as best business state, red flag rises on workforce

    Business

    In the eternal quest to appeal more to business than other states, Florida's managed to haul itself out of some pretty mediocre years. After scoring an impressive 8 among 50 states way back in 2007, Florida suffered horribly during and immediately after the recession. Its rank sank as low as No. 30 only four years ago, …

    Florida's trying to make strides in preparing its high school and college graduates for the rapidly changing skill sets of today's workforce. But the latest CNBC ranking of the best and worst states for business gave Florida poor marks for education, ranking No. 40 (tied with South Carolina for education) among the 50 states. Still, Florida ranked No. 12 overall in the best business states annual ranking. [Alan Berner/Seattle Times]
  4. Florida: White man who killed black person to be executed

    State Roundup

    GAINESVILLE — For the first time in state history, Florida is expecting to execute a white man for killing a black person — and it plans to do so with help of a drug that has never been used previously in any U.S. execution.

    This undated photo provided by the Florida Department of Corrections shows Mark Asay. If his final appeals are denied, Asay is to die by lethal injection after 6 p.m. Thursday. Asay was convicted by a jury of two racially motivated, premeditated murders in Jacksonville in 1987.  [Florida Department of Corrections via AP]
  5. Ex-TPD sergeant LaJoyce Houston takes plea deal in stolen tax refund case

    Criminal

    TAMPA — LaJoyce Houston, a former Tampa police sergeant accused with her husband in a federal tax refund fraud scheme, has agreed to plead guilty to receiving stolen government property, court records state.

    Former Tampa police officers Eric and LaJoyce Houston walk into the Sam Gibbons U.S. District Courthouse on Oct. 28, 2015, to face charges relating to stolen identity tax refund fraud. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES
 ]