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Residents Ready for Change Along 34th Street South Corridor

The plan will be formalized throughout 2013 with council voting on the plan in December. Implementation of the 34th Street Corridor plan is scheduled to start in early 2014.

More than a 200 residents and business owners turned out Tuesday night to St. Petersburg College to kick off the process to revitalize 34th Street South from 30th Avenue to 54th Avenue South.

"This is probably the biggest turnout of any groups of associations to talk about a corridor plan," Mayor Bill Foster said Tuesday night. "What this tells me is that it's long overdue."

Council chair Karl Nurse said the revitalization plans needs create businesses that will allow residents south of Central to spend their money in the neighborhood they live in. 

"I moved to the south side about 22 years ago. I remember the first thing I realized, 'it’s hard to spend money here,' " Nurse said. "Can you buy a pair of socks, a shirt, groceries? Can you go to a decent restaurant? Those are the challenges."

A presentation of 34th Street plan design concepts will be on Aug. 13 and a final draft is due on Oct. 15. Following the final draft, there will be two public meetings, Nov. 12 at the Planning and Visioning Commission and Dec. 19 at City Council.

Gary Jones, with the city's economic development department, said should council approve of the plan in December, implementation could begin in early 2014. 

Jones said the plan has three key cogs. 

"Improve the retail experience, create more redevelopment opportunities and increase the profits of businesses," Jones said.

The goal of Tuesday night's forum was to energize the community and have residents talk to their neighbors about getting involved in turning around 34th Street. The city also had surveys for the residents to fill out, which can also be found online.

Once completed, you can email the survey to gary.jones@stpete.org

Judy Ellis, president of the Lakewood Estates Neighborhood Association said she'd like to see more "people space" in any revitalization plan with less concrete and parking lots dominating the landscape. 

"I keep harping back to the cities I’ve been in," Ellis said. "The emphasis on people and less emphasis on the four-wheeled monsters we are addicted to. ... We need to open it up and make it more people friendly.

"We have a lot of thriving, good businesses here and we can make them thrive more and bring in other businesses," Ellis added. 

A steering committee comprised of business owners, property owners and neighborhood leaders will take the results of the survey to help formulate a plan in the coming months. The plan will target economic development, transportation, streetscape, land use/zoning and marketing.  

"I love this area and I know there are so many people here that feel the same way," said Tom Ando, president of the Broadwater Neighborhood Association. "The key to this area is the access." 

Foster and city officials touted the successful process of the Central Avenue revitalization plan as a model for the 34th Street South Corridor plan going forward. 

"The idea of a Central Avenue Plan is to join downtown and Tampa Bay to Boca Ciega Bay," Foster said. "As we were working on that plan, (council member Steve Kornell) said 'mayor we need to do the same me for 34th Street South and we need to vision and start bringing in the community.'"

Foster said the community is ripe for development

"The demographics for development along 34th Street South are incredible," Foster said. "Property values and expendable income (are great) and yet it's still very hard to break that (Southside) barrier.

"It’s you that will make all the difference in the world," Foster added. "I’m excited, though probably not as excited as you are. You all will be very instrumental in the implementation of (this) plan."

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CJ April 25, 2013 at 05:57 PM
I'm listening. Comments like your are winning me over. If there ever was a time for St Pete to increase the pressure on crime and businesses who invite crime that are in that area...now would be a good time. I am too new here to know what may or may not be in the works for the blighted area on 34th St that is mentioned here. Maybe the city ''does'' have drastic plans yet to be unleashed? It hardly make sense for St Pete to let this area go the way it has. Another commentor mentioned the Grand Central area. If the druggies, hookers and bums could be replaced with quaint little buisnesses and fun places to eat drinka and be merry...then that would really be something. Right now, I can't imagine going to a side-walk cafe type place along that area and enjoying the view. There are ''so many'' places in Pinellas County where you can do this...and that would be a pleasant change for the area north and south of Central on 34th St.
CJ April 25, 2013 at 06:07 PM
I am glad to know there are good neighborsa in the area like you and us. It is an important first step to helping our area gradually improve instead of steadily becoming the permanent crime zone it is for now. It is a daunting task to improve this area. We are new here, and I have been told by many that the area is vastly improved compared to 3-5 years ago. I don't know if that is true or not...but if it is true...then it can give us hope that improvemants will keep on coming. My observation is that it seems like the police have stepped up crime control in the area and they don't seem to be letting up. It is key that the police keep the heat on around here and turn up the heat much more. I could personally take them to a dozen houses and businesess that if they could get shut down...improvements could be immediately be seen, It is hard to figure out why some crime spots are allowed to carry on.
Sue Barber April 26, 2013 at 01:12 AM
There will always be people that prefer to complain, won’t attend meetings to learn more, or participate in a constructive manner. That said, those citizens that took the time to attend the meeting and become informed had an extremely positive reaction to the action plan laid out. How can anyone argue about making our city more attractive and conducive to a better lifestyle for all? This plan will serve several neighborhoods through the creation of jobs, business development, and bringing revenue to the area. Just stop and think of all the communities adjacent to the 34th Street S corridor - Broadwater, Dolphin Cay, Bayway Isles, Greater Pinellas Point, Lakewood, Maximo Moorings, Patriot Square, Point Brittany, plus all the communities on Isla and Tierra Verde. The plan builds on the assets of the area, and helps establish the area as a destination of this part of the City. Those of us who live here will be better served by the new businesses as well as the enhanced image and new identity of the area through landscaping and redevelopment. And all residents of the City will benefit from any economic development.
T. Lally April 26, 2013 at 02:48 PM
TL I was at the meeting on April 23rd. I was made aware of the this site by many concerned residences re all the negative dialog. SS is on the money. All our voices should be heard. That said rather than spending time blogging why not get involved with a neighborhood association. Apparently the City took notice of the attendance (in my opinion greater than the 200 noted). The power is in numbers. Together we can help each other "Catch The Wave" and move St Pete to be all it should and can be. You can go to the CONA web site and find information for contacting your neighborhood association. Lets focus our energies working with the neighborhood associations rather than blogging to the ether. As for me, no more comments, I'm going out into the community, work with others to "Catch The Wave", and make it happen.
Mike Milvain April 26, 2013 at 06:57 PM
Wow, lots frustration shown here and with some of this I can certainly identify. The anger and pessimism is another thing entirely. That I just don’t get. For those that work to improve everyone’s lot, may I suggest encouragement instead? All worthwhile advancements face challenges and skepticism and we know the effort will take years before the vision that is being developed will be even partially completed. But doing nothing is not an answer either. Surely even the staunchest detractor would agree that the effort to improve Downtown and Grand Central, mistakes and false starts included, turned out to be worthwhile efforts with positive results. We imagine similar success is possible for our long-neglected area. Our effort has three goals: 1. Improve the retail experience 2. Create more redevelopment opportunities 3. Increase the profits of businesses We are confident that with the community pulling together we can meet these goals for South 34th Street at some level. Wouldn’t you, as neighbors and fellow residents of St Pete, agree that it’s important that somebody try? --- Mike Milvain, Broadwater

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