The newly designed parking lot for the 5600 block of Park Boulevard, as well as the ownership of its buildings, is shown in this rendering.
PINELLAS PARK – The 5600 block of Park Boulevard is getting a facelift, with the city of Pinellas Park holding deeds to the majority of the properties.
“It’s been exciting,” said City Manager Mike Gustafson. “People are realizing it’s starting to come back to life.”
The recent changes to the downtown strip, between 56th and 57th streets, started after the Suncoast Haven of Rest Rescue Mission sold its two properties to the city and moved to St. Petersburg at the end of March. Since closing on the properties, the city has been buying up the remaining lots within the block with the intention of encouraging new business in the epicenter of its redevelopment district.
“The mission was really affecting that whole four- to five-block area,” Gustafson said. “We started working on helping them move to a better location and a couple of other possibilities came available. That’s what started it all.”
The larger of the two rescue mission properties, 5663 Park Blvd., became an 11-suite office building with a shared conference room, designed like a business incubator to support budding companies. The Pinellas Park Office Complex, which still smells like fresh paint inside, is now home to marketing company 3D Mark, a computer programmer, two writers, a massage therapist and a landscape designer. Only one space is still available, with finalized or pending leases on the remaining spaces, interim Community Development Administrator Patrick Murphy said.
The city is working with a company to design an updated sign that would point Park Boulevard traffic to the parking lot behind the office building.
No plans have been made for the now gutted building previously occupied by the rescue mission at 5625 Park Blvd.
The building at 5681 Park Blvd. is being leased to Pompei Art Studio, owned by metalworker Vince Pompei. The artist is using the space but hasn’t opened it to the public, Murphy said.
The building of the former Spin City Laundromat, at 5665 Park Blvd., will be demolished; the city discovered it wasn’t structurally sound. Officials aren’t sure what will be built in its place.
The city currently has an agreement to sell the property at 5609 Park Blvd. and the vacant lot to the east of it to a company called BDG Park LLC, registered to lawyer Preston Cockey of Tampa and Pinellas-Park based CNH Realty, according to state records.
The city has designs that show both lots used to house a single building circled by a drive-through, where “one might be able to purchase doughnuts and coffee,” Gustafson hinted. The city can’t reveal the final plans for the building, he said.
The city wasn’t able to buy two properties. Real estate agent Councilman Rick Butler owns 5635 Park Blvd., which renovated the building in the last year after a vehicle crashed into its front. He was unwilling to sell.
“He told us who his lawyer was,” Gustafson joked.
Roger Broderick, owner of the property at 5619 Park Blvd., also proved unwilling to sell. He currently leases the building to Bottles Pub.
Along with leasing out the properties, Pinellas Park is designing a renovation to the parking lot to the north of the buildings, adding in “quite a bit of green space,” Murphy said. The 63 parking spaces, accessible from 75th Avenue, will be landscaped and shared between the businesses.
The north side will remain the functional front of the buildings, but the city wants a more attractive front to Park Boulevard, Gustafson said. The Pinellas Park Council, acting as the community redevelopment board, will be considering renderings that are currently in the works.
“I think we’ll be working on the vision coming up in the next few months,” Gustafson said. “They will have to figure out what they want the buildings to look like.”
In general, several businesses to the north – and the south – of Park Boulevard are in the process of turning over a new leaf, said city spokesman Tim Caddell. The 5600 block is the center of that excitement, but not the end of it. For example, the owners of the property currently occupied by Burke Painting, at 5805 Park Blvd., have offered to sell it to the city, Fire Chief Doug Lewis said. The city hasn’t acted on the offer yet, Gustafson said. Officials are concentrating on developing the properties it already owns.
“We are really open for really creative ideas,” Gustafson said.