For any city to thrive economically, all of its neighborhoods and residents need to prosper. Yet for too long, the 34th Street S corridor has languished as St. Petersburg's forgotten gateway from the south. It has failed to receive the attention of more prosperous areas north of Central Avenue or of more disadvantaged areas in the heart of Midtown. Now a new, ambitious master plan dubbed the Skyway Marina District plan offers promise for residents who for too long have had to drive far from their neighborhoods for amenities common in other areas of the city.
The plan hopes to revitalize the 1.5 miles along 34th Street S between 30th Avenue S and 54th Avenue S. The corridor is a nondescript hodgepodge of forlorn strip malls, shuttered businesses, convenience stores, fast-food restaurants and a Publix supermarket. After years of fits and starts to revitalize the 34th Street S corridor, the Skyway Marina District project would take advantage of the area's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico to attract better restaurants, retail stores and recreational opportunities. City Council members Steve Kornell, Wengay Newton and Karl Nurse support the Skyway Marina District, which the council will consider early next year.
Area residents and businesses who have reviewed the proposal are enthusiastic, but others are understandably skeptical of the promises being made to transform the 34th Street S corridor. Previous highly touted efforts all withered on the vine. And as Kornell noted, the area is still unfairly characterized and misunderstood as a south St. Petersburg neighborhood with disproportionate crime problems. Kornell and Newton say the chances for success of the Skyway Marina District proposal are vastly improved because of unprecedented community support from neighborhood and condominium groups and business associations.
Although the Skyway Marina District is a long way from becoming a reality, the proposal is a promising first step toward revitalizing the 34th Street S corridor. St. Petersburg's success depends on the success of all of its neighborhoods, and it's time to move forward.