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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Really? April 24, 2013 at 12:55 PM
That"s good now all the drug dealers and criminals will have a nicer area to infest and the new businesses will draw the up and coming robbery crowd , Also the added green space will probably be welcomed by the prostitutes . REALLY ?
Inky's Mom April 24, 2013 at 01:43 PM
My sentiments exactly, Really? Until the city addresses the ongoing problems with drugs,prostitutes and begging vagrants from 5th Ave N to Central, this project is just a bandage on a festering sore.
TilllDeathDoYouBarrierIsland April 24, 2013 at 02:05 PM
Pinellas Co. has the population density of Los Angeles. This is regentrification. There are 3 colleges in the area and other thriving businesses. The only thing you can do with the problems is round them up and put them in jail...
Sunshine April 24, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Sorry you have your head in the sand. The good people we have here now are ready for change and the bad element will be dealt with !!!!! The area in our plan is from 30th Ave. S. to 54th Ave S. This is a very low crime area and the new businesses here are thriving. Your perception of the area is the first thing that needs to be changed.
Kathy Kindt April 24, 2013 at 03:26 PM
As a 34th Street corridor business owner...I am personally excited to see the new growth and development the city is planning. I have been a resident of the southside for 34 years...I choose to live in this area and I chose to build my business in this area as well. So, lets catch the positive attitude and just say " LETS BELIEVE " , in yourself and your neighbours to make this difference for everyone here and the attraction for those to come build and develop our corridor.
CJ April 24, 2013 at 03:34 PM
Sunshine. What is the matter with you? You are the one with your head in the sand. Why is this so hard to understand for you, because you clearly are not "getting it" and neither is the city of St Pete or whoever is behind fixing up this area? It is "easy" to fix up an area that is already "OK"...and by the way.....the area of 34th south of 30th Ave S is just that...only "OK". You are here bragging about it like it is Coffee Pot, or like some of the nice Gulf Beach Communities. It's not. No where near. Are you not reading what every single other person is saying here? Is the City of St Pete not reading it either? Plain and simple, Sunshine...it is not 34th St S that is south of 30th Ave S that needs work...it is the "other" direction....to the "north" of 30th Ave S. Why don't you know that? My family just completed my first year here and even I know this. Until St Pete addresses the concerns in the general area of north and south of Central (yes...basically Child's Park...duh)...any money spent anywhere else is a joke. "Your" perception of the area is inflated and through rose colored glasses. There are some nice homes in that area, but like everywhere else...including your neighborhood...until they push the crime out of the area West of I-275 back over to the East of I-275...the crime and blight threatens to consume and spread in that entire area....and that would include GulfPort and Pasedena. You already can't tell parts of GulfPort from parts of Child's Park. Fact.
CJ April 24, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Well...of course as a business owner in the area you would be happy to see ''any'' improvement...but I live in the area also. I just don't want to see the area south of 30th Ave S go downhill. All the people here complaining about this plan are ''on your side'', but you don't seem to be able to see that. You are what they say is a person who can't see the forest for the trees. Think of all the possible customers you could have and how they have to drive through the ''gauntlet''...as my family calls it...to get to you. The area that several have mentioned here from..say...5th Ave N and south from there is just horrible to drive through or have to stop someplace. Even buying gas there is often threatening...unless you like bums and hookers....and those are the better people.
CJ April 24, 2013 at 04:01 PM
Do they have Eminent Domain here in Florida..or Pinellas County? That could cure a lot of this problem...but my guess is that they don't allow it to be used here. I say that because it seems like it would have already been used in some bad areas such as what's being discussed here. I admit it can be a very controversial action, but it also has it's places where it is perfect to use. Eminent Domain and the right developer with the right ''big'' plan...could totally transform the 34th Street corridor in Southside St Pete to the direct east and west of I-275. It sure needs it. I am sure there are investors that have thought the same thing,,,but without Eminent Domain it would be hard to accomplish. Technically, Code Enforcement..if done aggressively enough...could also play a huge role in greatly improving the area in question here. They seem too lenient in what they allow or selectively enforce. I have heard from many people that the area was much worse not that long ago...but they sure need to keep up whatever they were doing...because it seems like progress cleaning up the area is at a standstill. Obviously, the present economy is also a factor....but even taking that into consideration...progress in the area is not evident.
Inky's Mom April 24, 2013 at 04:38 PM
CJ, you are spot on in all your comments. We live in HIstoric Kenwood and love it, but it is a nightmare to do any business on 34th St. Even the manager at the CVS at Central told my husband, who was tired of being accosted by vagrants at the door, that he repeatedly calls the police to get rid of the vagrants, and by the time they show, they say there is nothing they can do. He also told my husband that the vagrants are 'regulars' who team up and work the area like a job. A former down-on-his luck resident of the Mosely Motel talked to me very matter-of-fact about the drugs and numerous prostitutes living there, saying he was afraid for his own kids. We are all excited about the renewal of the Southside corridor, but it is really not that bad now...compared to the stuff around Central to 5th Ave N. The city needs to start there instead of wringing its hands and pooh poohing the problem for years....
SaltSandSky April 24, 2013 at 05:44 PM
Long before this new redevelopment started, progress was actually happening all by itself inside this district...the Marina has a massive new project that just started, Wal-Mart went in, Chase bank, the Del'Oro property is just starting a huge investment and many other projects. 200 plus residents and business owners all stood up last night and decided to roll up their shirt sleeves to work on creating an actual district so that we have influence over exactly what will happen. There is a big wave building and some of the people making comments above should show up because this is exactly the time when ideas and a tiny effort could possibly make a very big difference.
S. Ripley April 24, 2013 at 06:23 PM
“Nice” businesses thrive on “nice” people, and “nice” people like to live in “nice” areas- and ultimatly “nice” people displace bad elements, which in turn attracts more “nice” people and thus more “nice” business- and so on. But all this take a tremendous amount of time and on-going effort. Trying to turn a bad area around by bringing in “nice” businesses in hope of attracting “nice” people is indeed a worthy cause, but not one for the fainthearted. This type of turnaround can take 5 or 10 years, or more. If those businesses are not prepared to go the distance before giving up, this effort is doomed to be a costly failure. I suggest to the politicians and business involved: that they should plan for and articulate their ability to stomach at least 5 years before any measurable payback is realized.
Kurt Donley April 24, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Gary Jones and the city planners did a great job in Grand Central. I went to the presentation last night, my bet is they will do a great job here as well. The negativity on this positive development, is disheartening. If you live in an area that needs cleaning up, then do so. It is 100% on you not the city to solve that. Get involved in your neighborhood association and be the Squeaky wheel there instead...
Patriot April 25, 2013 at 12:08 AM
How is your PAWN shop doing? Or is it Liquor store? busted
Inky's Mom April 25, 2013 at 12:14 AM
Oh, Kurt, you are truly a scream. 34th St around Central to about 7th Avenue is infested with scum and I challenge you to take on the prostitutes at the Mosely, who would probably cut your heart out if you threaten them, or the vagrants at the CVS, who get increasingly blatant in their demands for money. We should go in and clean it up? How do you propose? The city has fined and shut down the Mosely in the past, and the problems are still there. The manager at the CVS continues to call the police, and the problems are still there. A little north of 5th, you'd best stay in at night or you will be assaulted and robbed most certainly. I assure you the scum will drift south on 34th Street if more people with some money are out and about, so you need to realize that the whole corridor needs improving and I don't pay exorbitant property taxes to do it myself!!!
Patriot April 25, 2013 at 12:52 AM
AMEN! Mom!
Bruce Filmore Dunn April 25, 2013 at 04:49 AM
Most of the improvements will come with private investors seeing a possibility in profits.. Can't predict who might see opportunity and who will walk away... needless to say it is improving and when the dam breaks... the rats will want out.. and the big fish will spawn... I keep putting money into 34th Ave and 35th Ave S. between Lake Magg. and T.Bay, I get a lot of frowns but thing are turning here along the water fast.. (esp. since they removed that trailor park..) Hopefully the Scum-lords who live in the nicer parts of town will slowly sell out of our way... Peace ya'll, no one can know for sure what might come along 34th St. in the near future... but you all are correct in your own weird ways.. It is screwed up, but maybe, just maybe, not for long... This city has more coming it's way... so hang on and buy as much land as you can get your hands on... I am... win or loose, we will either be laughing and telling jokes about all this one day or NOT. This ain't faith or hope, it's chance and money...my money too, BruceFDunn 33705
Kurt Donley April 25, 2013 at 01:22 PM
I'm calling B.S. I live on Central, I go to that CVS, I don't get "spanged" there anymore than anywhere else on the corridor. The Mosely has tried to clean up it's act, and HKNA does a pretty good job at getting city involvement. The Street crimes unit routinely goes after prostitutes in the area. It is more of function of economy, lack of opportunity driving people to begging, drug trade and prostitution to get by. That may be out of our hands to fix. Whining on a blog isn't going to do anything. If you want to do something organize a media event on first Fridays get enough people walking around with cameras and interrupt their commerce on their busiest night of the month. They will disperse and go somewhere else in a couple of months...
SS April 25, 2013 at 01:52 PM
I like this proposal and appreciate alternative points of view. It gets the discussion going. Those that attack others personally just get ignored by me and I suggest the rest of us do the same. There is no absolute answer here. Sure, the area north of the proposed project needs help and it needs it bad. There is a case to be made that this area perhaps should go first. With that said, it is my opinion that this area should be part of this whole plan. Whether or not they take place at the same time or first, does not really matter. Positive improvements south of this area will attract developers north and once that starts to happen, a project like this will give it the push start it needs. The south side is a beautiful place to live and work. We have a great mix of ethnic origins and income. Yes, there are neighborhoods that need help and pushing this project will ensure development continues on the far south end of St. Petersburg, thus pushing positive development from all sides of 34th Street. The loudest and most critical people are seldom right but they do bring new perspectives that should be considered. As a business that has endured many changes since the 1950s, we support this initiative. Many thanks to all neighborhood associations and the Mayor and his office for envisioning what this project could mean to the City of St. Petersburg.
CJ April 25, 2013 at 05:36 PM
I like your comment the best. Some others have expressed similar thoughts, but you covered a lot of the bases here. I especially like the part where you said ''this area should be a part of the whole plan''. Ideally, The Patch puts out an article and people respond. As the comment and replies come in, hopefully we can compromise our original thoughts where appropriate. I am among the newcomers in St Pete who came from out-of-state and took advantage of the foreclosure market. We bought a neat little house that is a bit of a fixer upper, and it is located in this area. I am 60 years old and have never lived in anything but suburbs, so the "diversity" of my present neighborhoods was something new to me. We did not just move here without knowing the problems here, but after one year here we can honestly say we are fine with being part of the people whose goal is to help make things better. When we shop locally, we often head to the 34th St area the improvements are going. We also travel the by-way to The Beach a lot...so we go through this area often. With the new by-way bridge, and the plans to change St Pete's Beach gradually over the upcoming years...we can visualize a trend in the area to be more like a "mini-Clearwater"...if that seems like a fair analogy. The point..is that I can now agree it makes sense to make a good area even better....despite the fact that the blight to the north of it is ever present. Maybe the good area can and will spread and improve the bad areas?
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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