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Gulfport moves ahead on plans for 49th Street

(ran East, South, Beach, editions)

Over the past four years, the city's attention has turned to its northern end, where 49th Street forms a tired-looking barrier with St. Petersburg.

Now Gulfport is embarking on the next step for the corridor. The city will pay a consultant, Architectural Concepts, to conduct a series of public workshops that will lead to detailed designs for 49th Street, the Tangerine Greenway and the old Bay Machine building, which the city purchased as its own investment in 49th Street.

"If you make public improvements," City Manager Bob Lee said, "it encourages the private owners to make improvements to it."

The City Council approved the $52,960 contract with Architectural Concepts on Tuesday. The company will hold public meetings and present detailed design plans for the 49th Street area.

Among those plans will be a new building at the Bay Machine property purchased last year. The city plans to erect a 2,000- or 3,000-square-foot structure, temporarily dubbed a "community services building."

Gulfport is working out what services will be offered there, but plans to have an office for the Gulfport Police Department and a large multi-use room that could be used by neighborhood watch organizations and other community groups.

The city also might use the property as a storage area for people who own recreational vehicles, boat trailers or other equipment that cannot be stored in a residential area. The building might include an office for a city staff person who would register vehicles to be parked on the property.

A final decision has not yet been made on whether the property will be used for vehicle storage, Lee said.

The contract with Architectural Concepts represents the first time the city has paid an outside consultant for help with 49th Street. Previously, Lee said, the work was done in-house.

The city already has started work on Tomlinson Park, which is also part of the 49th Street redevelopment district. The park has received four grants so far _ the latest was $10,000 for handicapped-accessible restrooms _ and is in the running for at least three more.

Architectural Concepts should complete its work within about six months.

"September is the goal," Lee said. "But if it goes a little later than that, it's only going to be because we're wanting to make sure the public is involved."

Up next:WEDDINGS

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