A pedestrian-friendly makeover of downtown will continue this summer as officials launch a streetscaping project along St. Petersburg Drive.
The project will be an extension of the elaborate landscaping the city has installed on nearby State Street, complete with brick pavers, wide sidewalks, inviting benches, angled parking, Victorian-style lampposts, and blooming magnolias and crape myrtles.
"This is the next phase of continuing to develop our downtown. Oldsmar is trying to get that Old Florida feel," said Julie Foster, the city's sustainability coordinator. "We're encouraging physical fitness, walking and biking and less automobile use."
The Oldsmar City Council recently voted unanimously to go forward with the project, which has an estimated cost of $600,000. Half of that will come from a $300,000 Pinellas County community development block grant. Oldsmar's share will come from property taxes generated from its downtown, Oldsmar's designated Community Redevelopment Area.
The city will put the project out for bid in the next couple of weeks, Foster said, with construction to follow later this year.
The long block of St. Petersburg Drive between State Street and Dartmouth Avenue will be refurbished. City documents say the goal is to transform an "uninviting section" of St. Petersburg Drive into a pedestrian-oriented zone that will attract development.
That immediate area includes the Oldsmar Galleria, a stylish-looking wedge of stores, offices and condos that opened in 2006, and the Oldsmar Public Library, which opened in 2008. Both are intended to serve as downtown anchors, luring more people to the district.
Public Works director John Mulvihill told the City Council that construction crews will realign the road to accommodate two traffic lanes, 47 angled parking spaces, and 5- to 6-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides.
Brick paver crosswalks in a geometric design will highlight St. Petersburg Drive's intersection with Dartmouth Avenue - identical to its intersection with State Street.
City Council member Janice Miller asked if St. Petersburg Drive would be too narrow to include a left turn lane into the library. Mulvihill said it will be too narrow.
Miller also suggested that the median islands that will be placed on St. Petersburg Drive should be narrower, so they are not as much of an obstacle to traffic as the wide islands on nearby State Street.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4151.