ST. PETERSBURG — Jason Mathis has floated the idea for the past few years, but now he’s starting the soft sell.
Mathis, CEO of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, is pitching the idea of creating a special improvement district to residents, property and business owners. It would act almost like a glorified homeowners association.
The city of Tampa already has a similar district.
“It’s worthy of asking the question,” he said Tuesday.
The boundaries of the St. Petersburg district would be between Fifth Avenue N and Fifth Avenue S, from Fifth Street E to the water. The fee Mathis is suggesting would be $1 per $1,000 taxable property value, netting a $2 million base.
One thing that could use some money, he says, is Williams Park. With vagrancy on the rise, the extra dollars could go toward intense cleaning and graffiti removal. And to drive more foot traffic to the park, perhaps the business improvement district could hire an event coordinator.
An enhanced Williams Park, he said, could encourage development and make surrounding property more valuable. Another thing the money could be used for: banners and signage. Any money the city has allocated toward those projects and others could be spent elsewhere in the city.
Mathis said he’s had peripheral conversations with City Council members and Mayor Ken Welch’s administration. He’s asked stakeholders what services they would like to see.
Karen Carmichael, president of the St. Petersburg Downtown Neighborhood Association, thinks it’s a good idea and wants to learn more. She said the neighborhood has rallied for a scheduled twice-a-year cleanup at the park, held several yoga classes and has installed pet stations to encourage people to walk their dogs through the park.
“We’re for anything that would reactivate the park for everyone’s use,” Carmichael said.
The business tax district would go before the City Council for approval. Property owners would hold a vote and the district would only form with a majority vote. That process could take six months to a year.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated how a property owner would pay the special assessment.