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Saint Petersburg, Florida, United States

South St. Pete Redevelopment Part I: New 34th Street South Mixed-Use Center

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Sometimes redevelopment requires the buy-in, cooperation and coordination of several entities. This may be particularly true in areas that have suffered from disinvestment, and municipalities have taken an "anything is better than nothing" approach, allowing entities to come in with projects, oftentimes with very little coordination or thought for the future. Such is the case with southern St. Petersburg. The area has several areas that are ripe for redevelopment. However, there has been no real, compelling vision for the future to guide development. As such, we have ended up with poorly planned areas.

Our former mayor, Rick Baker, had a vision of a seamless city, where all parts of the city had the same types of amenities (shopping, restaurants, post offices, banks, parks). However, his vision, although good on its merits, in execution seemed to be about bringing suburban-style development to parts of the city that, although neglected or overlooked, should be developed in a more urban way.

With that said, I have a vision for two major redevelopment projects for south St. Pete that I will discuss over the next two blog posts. This first development is aimed at addressing the lack of quality retail and restaurants on the south side. This type of development has eluded or avoided the south side, mainly out of perception of a poor, crime-ridden area, when really this only applies to certain parts, and not the whole. At any rate, the south side needs a major shopping and dining destination.

So my proposal is to redevelop the land currently used by St. Petersburg College, a recently closed assisted living facility and the recently demolished old EconoLodge Hotel (once planned to be a home depot). These lots represent the last large lots along 34th Street, the main commercial thoroughfare through the south side of town. However, the vision is not to build more typical strip centers. The vision is for a multi-story retail center, with supporting residential developments. Below is a plan for the combined properties.

The New 34th Street South Mixed-Use Center
The red portion below is the current home to St. Petersburg College Allstate Campus. This will be the multi-story indoor retail center, similar to the Bronx Terminal Market. It will have big box retailers, such as Target, Best Buy and Marshalls, junior anchors like DSW Shoe Warehouse and Bed Bath & Beyond, smaller mall stores, such as Lane Bryant, Jimmy Jazz and Gamestop, a few fast-food restaurants, and a family entertainment center like Dave & Busters.

Gateway Center at Bronx Terminal Market

The dark red is what I call "restaurant row". This would be the location of several sit-down restaurants, something sorely lacking on the south side. I envision Applebees, TGI Fridays, Chillis, Chipotle, Noodles & Co (a newcomer), Red Lobster and a Golden Coral (which would be hugely popular).

The purple is a family apartment complex in the 5 to 7 story range. Similar to the Vintage Lofts at West Tampa or the Fusion 1560 apartments in downtown St. Pete

Vintage Lofts at West Tampa

The orange is a senior housing building, in the 10 to 15 story range. The grey sections are structured parking that would serve both the retail and the residential buildings.

The retail would serve a s a regional shopping destination for southern St. Petersburg, as well as the beach communities, where there is no major shopping. It may also draw from other parts of the city that can more easily reach this center as opposed to centers to the north and west. The residential would meet a need for affordable senior housing. The family housing I envisions as mixed-income to appeal to young families and even young professionals. Eventually, I see this as a destination stop along an expanded light rail system.

To accomplish this would require lots of pieces to come together. First, my vision for a redeveloped Tropicana Field would need to happen. St. Petersburg College could then move its Health Science center to downtown, move its criminal justice center from the Allstate Center to the current location of the Health Science Center in Pinellas Park, and sell the Allstate Center to the developer of this new development (or the City of St. Petersburg to deed over to the developer). The owners of the other properties would also need to sell their properties to the developer or to the City to deed to a developer.

In conclusion, this new mixed-use center would breath new life and ultimately change the image of south St. Pete, making it an attractive place to settle in, raise a family, and even retire. The next post, we'll talk about a vision for further north along 34th Street, at the 22nd Ave S intersection. This is another major development involving a lot of moving parts. However, the two of these together will transform the south side, and open its potential for redevelopment.

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