Consultant to study development designs in Pass-a-Grille

Published April 22, 2014

ST. PETE BEACH — Preservation of historic Pass-a-Grille will be the focus of a $22,000 consultant study beginning this week.

The study comes on the heels of a similar nearly completed study conducted for the Corey Avenue-Downtown District aimed at encouraging both commercial and residential development and increasing pedestrian access.

In Pass-a-Grille the goal is quite different.

"I am telling you we are going to lose this district if we don't do something," Commissioner Melinda Pletcher said at a recent City Commission meeting. "We have been negligent in our duties toward Pass-a-Grille."

Rather than encouraging commercial and residential redevelopment, the Pass-a-Grille study is focused on establishing design and development standards to both protect the unique and historical character of the district while enabling property owners to redevelop.

As a first step in the study, residents are invited to join in today's Pass-a-Grille Walkabout, which will be held between 2 and 4 p.m. beginning outside the Paradise Grille at 900 Gulf Way.

The leading consultant, Ginger Corless, a principal at Tindale-Oliver & Associates of Tampa, says the walkabout will establish a "community snapshot" of the existing residential and commercial buildings, as well as the image and character the community hopes to preserve.

During the walkabout, architectural styles and development patterns will be photographed to use in drafting future design standards.

"Pass-a-Grille is a very passionate community," Pletcher said, pointing to the more than 150 residents and business owners who attended a recent meeting concerning reconstruction of Pass-a-Grille Way.

The study is the result of years of work by the city's Historical Preservation Board to establish guidelines that would both protect existing structures and encourage compatible redevelopment.

"This is just a first step to try to work with the community to define and hone in on just what we are trying to accomplish," City Manager Mike Bonfield explained to the City Commission earlier this month.

The results of the study, which will include two public forums in May, will point to possible next planning steps for Pass-a-Grille, as well as their costs.

Corless said she plans to conduct exercises for the forum participants to develop ideas and strategies for preserving existing structures, to ensure new structures are compatible and to address current non-conforming uses throughout Pass-a-Grille.

One goal is to create a "pattern book" that would outline preferred architectural styles, Corless said.

Ultimately, the study will lead to changes to development codes affecting Pass-a-Grille.

"The old parts of Pass-a-Grille need to be nurtured and maintained," said resident and business owner Rick Falkenstein. "We need to keep looking smart and old and cool."