In 2019, the city introduced the StPete2050 vision plan. It's a planning and "visioning" process organized around ten priority community themes.
Through StPete2050, a common vision for the city's physical, social, and economic advancements will be sought that can be used to coordinate and guide development in appropriate areas of the city. To do so, ten community themes have been identified: Arts and Culture, Shared Economic Prosperity, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Sustainability and Resilience, Education, Transportation and Mobility, Growth and Community Character, Attainable Housing, Healthy Communities, and Parks, Recreation, and Open Space. Historic preservation is one of the goals within "growth and community character".
StPete2050 builds upon the city's rich planning history, dating to the 1920's when the country's preeminent planner, John Nolen, was retained to develop a city plan. Nolen, was an advocate for designing with nature in mind and his plans reinforced the importance of parks, civic buildings, and wide boulevards. Many of St. Pete's character defining features derive from his early planning efforts.
1923: John Nolen completed St. Petersburg Today, St. Petersburg Tomorrow, Florida's first comprehensive city plan. It called for integrating development with natural features and landscapes. The forward looking plan, was opposed by the Evening Independent newspaper and developers and was never adopted.
1943: The Bartholomew Plan is adopted, following an era of municipal debt from the great depression. The plan assumed a future population that would stabilize at 120,000 in 1960 (by 1960 the actual population exceeded 180,000).
1970's: Rampant growth and water resource issues led to building moratoriums and the adoption of the 1974 conceptual plan. It incorporated a number of planning principles from the Nolen plan. In 1975, a state planning act passed and St. Pete subsequently adopted the 1977 Land Use Plan.
1989: In accord with the requirements of the state's 1985 Local Government Comprehensive Planning Act the city adopted its Growth Management Plan.
2002: St. Pete adopted Vision 2020, setting the stage for comprehensive plan and land development regulation updates.
2019: City commenced the StPete2050 visioning process with the goal to adopt a framework to guide future planning and development until 2050.
City council approved the 2050 Vision plan in May 2021. Presently, city staff are engaged in the second step of the 2050 process, updating & amending the city's comprehensive plan.
There is always a tenuous balance between unfettered and insensitive development and with maintaining a community's sense of place - its unique community character. Historic preservation, including protection of architectural, cultural and natural resources, is a key element of St. Petersburg's community character. A failure to recognize the importance of historic preservation to maintaining St. Pete's sense of place within StPete2050 will hamper future efforts to keep St. Petersburg special.
Updating the city's comprehensive plan allows the city to fine tune its goals and policies for identifying and protecting our community's historic resources. While there a variety of goal and policies that should be reviewed, PTB has been urging the city to establish as its primary historic preservation goal the creation and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to preserve our community's character focused on historic, architectural and cultural resources, the arts, local businesses, parks and neighborhoods - in short a community character master plan. The strategy could identify policies to encourage reusing historic buildings and to discourage their demolition.
We are reaching out to our members and the public and urging them to speak up about StPete2050. We also are working with city staff and local decision makers to make sure they understand the importance of historic preservation in keeping St. Pete special.
While commenting on the planning process is not the most exciting form of civic engagement, doing so is vitally important to future city historic preservation efforts. Thus, PTB encourages you to speak up about StPete2050 and, in particular, to comment on the importance of historic preservation to the city's sense of place. It's easy to do so, just scroll down the page to learn how!