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New bus terminal starts to take shape

Published Sep. 9, 2005

The Central Plaza Terminal is a $2.6-million project. Construction is expected to take nine to 10 months.

Construction is beginning on a bus terminal for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, adding another new building to the Central Plaza shopping district.

Already under construction across First Avenue S is the 55,000-square-foot YMCA, scheduled to be completed in September.

The new bus depot, Central Plaza Terminal, will be a round building on an acre at 32nd Street S between Central Avenue and First Avenue S. The transit authority bought the block of 32nd Street S between Central and First Avenue S, which now is part of its land parcel. Looking from Central Avenue, the terminal will be between Huntington Bank and Popeye's restaurant, said Roger Sweeney, PSTA executive director.

"It's a very large terminal," Sweeney said. "It will have a facility for customer information and public bathrooms. The area will be covered but not enclosed."

Buses will enter and leave the terminal from Central Avenue and First Avenue S, Swee-ney said. The current bus transfer point at Central Plaza is on Central Avenue. Sweeney said one of the advantages of the new terminal is that it will take the transfer point off the street.

"It will increase pedestrian and passenger safety," he said. Pedestrian walkways will be built from Popeye's on the west side of the terminal and from Huntington Bank on the east side.

The Central Plaza Terminal is a $2.6-million project. Construction is expected to take nine to 10 months.

Bus routes will not be changed as a result of the new terminal, Sweeney said, but transfers should be easier and faster. He said businesses in the Central Plaza area had hoped to get a bus terminal there.

Central Plaza once provided some of the main shopping in St. Petersburg, outside downtown. At the beginning of the 1990s, the district had declined with the closing of a department store, theater and smaller shops. In recent years, it has made something of a comeback.

Sweeney said he didn't know which was planned first, the terminal or the new YMCA on First Avenue S.

"We're real excited about the Y moving out there," he said.

David Gruskin, a lawyer and president of the Grand Central District association, agreed.

"Any new construction helps the whole area," Gruskin said.