ST. PETE BEACH – Residents and business owners in St. Pete Beach got a peak at the latest conceptual renderings for possible Corey Avenue redevelopment March 26 by Michael Baker Jr. Inc., a Tampa-based planning and urban design firm.
About 60 showed up for the presentation, which allowed for feedback from those in attendance. That feedback will be used in developing a final rendering that will be released in mid-May.
The general idea is to first have a vision and then rewrite the city codes for the district to support it.
“Developers have already approached the city and us,” said Jerry Dabkowski, vice president and director of local government services for Michael Baker. “At this point, they’re just looking. They’re saying give me a vision downtown, let me know the codes will be conducive and we can talk.”
Dabkowski said development is picking up steam throughout Florida.
But City Manager Mike Bonfield cautioned that any redevelopment would be years away.
“We’re talking long range here,” Bonfield said. “It’s difficult for people to take themselves out of the equation and realize what the city will be like when they’re not here. So if they like the same thing that’s there now, there’s no need do anything.”
Bonfield said ultimately it would be investors that would push the city to make change. But before anything like that happens, the city’s current legal hassle over its comprehensive plan must be settled.
The city is currently working under a 2011 comprehensive plan that was challenged in court and the city won. The plaintiffs appealed and the city is now awaiting the decision of the appeal.
Using the term “sunrise to sunset,” planners showed off a possible plan to connect the east end of Corey with the west end of the street a few blocks away in a business-friendly, pedestrian-friendly environment.
One of the biggest and most noticeable changes involves implentation of a couplet – a one-way street through the heart of the Corey district. The couplet stretches from 75th Avenue south to 73rd Avenue and Gulf Boulevard east to Blind Pass Road.
The couplet will consist of two lanes of one-way traffic and a planted divider separating a bike lane and a slow lane of traffic where parallel parking will be available. The purpose is pedestrian safety and more exposure to the district with cars moving through more often.
Motorists westbound from St. Petersburg will cross the bridge at 75th Avenue and enter the couplet at Blind Pass Road. The couplet turns southbound to the left at Gulf Boulevard, another left at 73rd Avenue, a left at Blind Pass Road across Corey and back to 75th Avenue.
Traffic headed south from the couplet will have that option on Gulf Boulevard at 73rd Avenue. Traffic going north will be able to do so by turning right, or north, off westbound 75th Avenue at Blind Pass Road.
On the west end, or the “sunset” end of Corey, planners are floating the concept of an extended “Sunset” park from the current fishing area north past Woody’s and the construction of a possible hotel and restaurants between Corey and 75th Avenue. The area would include a boardwalk, fishing pier and pavilion.
The plan also includes a gateway design at four locations with an art décor look, uniform street furniture, such as bike racks, benches and waste rectacles; shade/shelter areas along Corey for pedestrians and additional outdoor dining.
Tentative plans also call for a walkway over 75th Avenue at Mangrove Avenue to the St. Pete Beach Recreation Center, a walkway under the bridge to the recreation center and a ‘sunrise” park on the east end of Corey next to Boca Ciega Bay with dock space for boaters.
Four separate plans are being floated for uses on the east end. One offers a “sunrise park” with limited vehicle access and mixed-use construction along the water. Another includes limited vehicle access with a 5-story parking garage on the north end of Bay Avenue, while another shows a potential mixed-use layout with the current businesses in the area maintained.