Ashon Nesbitt 1:58 AM 34th Street South , apartments , economic development , employment , redevelopment , restaurants , retail , south St. Petersburg , St. PetersburgOk, back to 34th Street South in St. Pete...
So one of the things that is sure to come out of the 34th Street redevelopment is streetscaping - wider/decorative sidewalks, seating, light fixtures, pavement designs, etc.
I spent a family vacation in Orlando this past week - specifically Lake Buena Vista and Kissimmee. While there, I saw what should NOT be done with 34th Street. Take a trip down US 192 in Kissimmee, better known as Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, and you will see. What may have been a neat-looking installation of brightly colored light posts, mile markers and bus shelters, now looks tacky and dated in my opinion. The same could be said, dare I say, for the stretch of Central Avenue right here in St. Petersburg between MLK and 16th Street in the formerly Dome District, now called EDGE district. The bright colored sidewalks and light fixtures are more appropriate for the beach community or some cheesy tourist district than an established (or establishing) urban district in a major city.
When approaching things like streetscaping - which is the main thing the municipality can do in terms of direct impact on the built environment in the 34th Street South district - planners and involved residents should look to turn 34th Street South into a "complete" street. Complete streets address all modes of transportation - private vehicles, bicycles, public transportation and pedestrians. There is landscaping, shade and seating.
To do this, I recommend the following
Consider the road dietThis may be the most "radical" thought. However, 34th Street South operates far below capacity, and may continue to do so, even with the redevelopment of properties along the stretch. Removing a lane of vehicular traffic would not create any bottlenecks or significantly impact congestion at all, in my opinion.
Replace a vehicular lane with a buffered bicycle laneAdding a buffered bicycle lane adds an amenity not found anywhere else in the city. It is also an opportunity for additional landscaping beyond the medians, and adds an additional buffer between vehicles and pedestrians
Widen sidewalks and add seating in various locationsAlthough alone they may not increase pedestrian activity, they certainly make walking a more pleasant experience. Combined with the bicycle lane, pedestrians should feel good about walking the district. Also, seating should be added at various locations. This can be in the form of free-standing benches as well as seating built into retaining walls near intersections.
ThemeOf course landscaping, lighting, paving, bus shelters, way finding and seating should be built around a theme for the district. My only recommendation is to choose a timeless theme and use timeless decorative features that will not look outdated in 10 years. A tropical look with lush landscaping as the main feature supported by lighting, paving and seating I think will fit well in this area surrounded by waterfront neighborhoods to the west, and wooded neighborhoods to the east. It will also be a nice, distinctive contrast to the harder-surfaced areas of 34th Street to the north.
I may expound on these ideas more within this post. There are lots of good resources on Complete Streets. As planning moves forward, I highly recommend these be consulted.
But more to come on 34th Street South about potential funding mechanisms and other regulatory ideas.
Ashon Nesbitt 1:16 AM Central Pinellas , Dome Industrial District , Gateway , Industrial , Pinellas County , redevelopment , shared parking , St. PetersburgBefore we continue with 34th Street, I wanted to put this idea out there...
Pinellas County leaders are concerned about increasing employment opportunities for its residents. One way leaders see to prevent this is to prevent (where possible) underutilized, vacant or abandoned industrial and commercial properties from being redeveloped into residential uses, usually multifamily developments. Also we have the Dome Industrial District the city of St. Pete is building up. One issue is the need to increase the density of jobs while limiting the footprint of developments. One way to do this could be the construction shared parking facilities for industrial buildings. Instead of each having their own surface lot, one parking garage could be built to serve multiple buildings. In the case of the Dome Industrial Park, a garage could be built along 22nd Street, with ground floor retail fronting 22nd Street of course, and a circulator to transport employees and visitors to the various businesses in the park. In central Pinellas, garages could be strategically built in various locations, also as mixed-use facilities with ground-floor retail, and circulators could transport employees and visitors to the businesses. Shared parking could also be allowed in office parks such as Carillon and Gateway Centre as a means to increase the amount of employment in these locations. Municipalities could build the garages, and businesses could pay to reserve spaces in the garages. Additional parking fees would also cover operational costs for the circulators. Ultimately, shared parking facilities would open up additional land for (re)development, and create the greater employment density that city and county leaders desire, and that would make the city and county more desirable to businesses and residents.
I am sure this has been done or suggested before, but I cannot find any record of it. At any rate, I think this would work well for both the city of St. Pete and Pinellas County.