The Corey Avenue business district in St. Pete Beach is attracting a lot of interest from developers, according to City Manager Mike Bonfield.
ST. PETE BEACH – City Manager Mike Bonfield told St. Pete Beach City Commissioners Aug. 13 that the city is getting regular interest from developers concerning the redevelopment of the Corey Avenue district.
“We’ve had some preliminary discussions with some very impressive people,” Bonfield said. “They have done these types of things in many communities around the country and they’re going to put together a team of people. Next time (next meeting, Aug. 27), I’d like to plan on bringing their key people in.”
Bonfield said it’s important for the city to keep its momentum alive on the project after approving the results of a recent study by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.
“We need to keep things moving because there is interest in east and west Corey,” he said. “We’re hearing regularly from people. It’s important for us to start addressing some of those things that we know are issues that have to be dealt with in both areas that are going to make some of these projects work.”
Bonfield said the city is currently moving ahead in two areas.
“One, hopefully at our next meeting, we’ll have a proposal from our continual contractual consultants to pick up and finalize the (Community Redevelopment Agency),” he said. “That’s going to be a CRA plan. We’ll have to go through that process with a tax increment plan. It will be a long process.”
The formation of a CRA would give the city the power to acquire, develop and dispose of property, construct streets, parks and other public improvements and rehabilitate buildings.
Secondly, Bonfield said, the city hopes to finalize a contract with a consulting engineer/planner to provide a possible game plan for the remainder of the suggestions by the TBRPC.
“The big one is really the whole streetscape,” Bonfield said. “That is all encompassing from lighting to signage, landscapring, furniture and crosswalks.”
He said it would also include a review of public facilities, such as the library and city hall, and how they fit into the big picture. It would also include a review of public parking and options for more parking.
“It would include things we ought to look into for public-private parking partnership opportunities, where they might be,” said Bonfield.
A recent survey of residents by Avera Wynne, director of planning for the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, showed a common interest in waterfront uses on both the east and west ends, while residents expressed universal interest for retail, entertainment, eating and drinking establishments across the board in the east, central and west areas of the district.
He said seven steps would be necessary for revitalization. They include:
• Get the east end “development ready.”
• Identify and support opportunities for revitalization of west properties.
• Finalize plans for Corey Avenue.
• Make a decision on a one-way traffic zone.
• Identify public/private partnership opportunities for off-street parking.
• Explore ways to keep the Beach Theatre a part of the Corey “experience.”
• Develop a public properties utilization plan to maximize use of such buildings as City Hall, the St. Pete Beach Library and the former police station.
Wynne compared the area’s potential to Boston’s Back Bay area, Clematis Street in West Palm Beach and the Naples waterfront, all of which are successful mixed-use enterprises with residential, entertainment, dining and retail components.