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  1. St. Petersburg

Public gets chance to talk about St. Petersburg's plan to buy church property for housing

ST. PETERSBURG — The city's plan to buy almost 5 acres for an affordable housing development near Bear Creek has run into opposition from neighboring communities.

The plan to purchase Grace Connection Church at 635 64th St. S for a multistory project of about 86 affordable and workforce housing units will be detrimental to their neighborhood, opponents say. For instance, they say, it will put stress on infrastructure, increase traffic, cause property values to plummet in their single-family community and affect the environment.

St. Petersburg wants to buy the property for $1.8 million and demolish the church and other buildings for the proposed development.

Nearby Gulfport residents are among those concerned about the plan. Gulfport Vice Mayor Paul Ray, who lives in the neighborhood and represents the area, has invited St. Petersburg officials to discuss the project at a public meeting on Monday. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Gulfport's 49th Street Neighborhood Center, 1617 49th St. S. St. Petersburg's neighborhood affairs administrator, Rob Gerdes, will speak about the project.

The plan for affordable housing will also be on St. Petersburg's City Council agenda on Thursday. Council members will be asked to authorize the purchase of the property. The meeting at City Hall, 175 Fifth St. N, begins at 1 p.m.