Speaking Up to Make a Better City

June 11, 2021

The Edge District is booming. This district, spanning the corridor along Central and the 1st Avenues and between MLK & 16th Streets, is home to both historic buildings and new developments. Recently, the city approved two projects for large new developments in the Edge. PTB, working with the Edge District Business Association, was successful in improving the design of both of these projects, including the reuse of a historic building that was originally proposed for demolition.The city is starting a process to revise its Comprehensive Plan and development regulations. Our experience with these two projects point to the need for better regulations. We will be calling on you to speak up to remind city decision makers the new rules need to keep St. Petersburg special.

The project proposed for 900 Central Ave. is the present location of the 1918 St. Petersburg Hotel building, one of the Edge District’s oldest and most prominent historic resources. Today, the three-story building is home to a variety of businesses including Anytime Fitness. The property was sold in 2019. Last year an application was submitted to redevelop the property, including the demolition of the historic hotel building. City staff was prepared to recommend development approval when PTB and the Edge District Business Association joined forces to say the historic hotel building should be saved. After a landmark application was submitted and a series of conversations were held, the property owner  agreed to retain the historic hotel building. Click here to read a St. Pete Rising blog story about the development. (link to: https://stpeterising.com/home/2021/5/27/13-story-mixed-use-building-planned-for-st-petes-edge-district-moves-forward)

Belpointe is a large development proposed for the parcel between 1st Ave. N. and Baum Ave. and just west of MLK St. Baum Ave. is located between 1st Ave. N. and Central Ave. and is named for early developer Jacob Baum. As originally submitted, the development plans treated the Baum Ave. side of the project as the “lifeless” backside of the development. A key component of the Edge District redevelopment plan is to activate Baum Ave. as an active pedestrian-oriented corridor. PTB again teamed with the Edged District Business Association and began a series of discussions with the developer. The outcome, a redesign of the Baum Ave. side of the development consistent with the plan for Baum to be an attractive pedestrian corridor with shopping opportunities.

Even with the changes in design, both developments will be large projects that will change the look of the area. The lessons are that our input matters and that city staff feels constrained in its ability to say no to out of place development. While we can make a difference, these projects are not ideal – we need better development criteria and policies. The city is just starting a process to review and revise those policies. We will be offering more information about the process in our e-newsletter and we hope you will join us in speaking up for rules to keep St. Petersburg special.

Headshot of C. Bette Wimbish
March 8, 2023
The role of women in St. Petersburg's history has often been overshadowed by the men that they worked alongside. But from the very beginning of the Sunshine City, when Sarah Williams played a role in persuading Peter Demens to bring the Orange Belt Railroad to what is today downtown St. Petersburg, instead of what is now modern-day Gulfport, the story of St. Petersburg has been driven in large part by women. Below are just a few of the names you should know.
Union Trust Building
February 7, 2023
Local media was abuzz last week with news that the historic Union Trust building at 895 Central Avenue has been leased, with local entrepreneur Jim Fiore announcing plans for a high-end restaurant in the nearly 100-year-old building. While it may have taken a while, that the property is still there to be developed, that its unique architectural details and irreplaceable features such as a basement vault containing original safe deposit boxes, will be reimagined for a new generation, is proof that historic preservation works.
Virtual Reality of Proposed Development at Mirror Lake
January 5, 2023
The City’s Development Review Commission unanimously denied a developer’s application for a 200-foot condo tower planned for the Mirror Lake waterfront.