LARGO — For more than four years, city officials have discussed a pair of West Bay Drive projects that aimed to establish an identity for the downtown area of Largo.
One of them, a new $522,000 plaza at the corner or West Bay Drive and Seminole Boulevard, is one step away from completion, City Manager Henry Schubert said Sept. 15.
At the west side of downtown, a project that seeks to connect the Pinellas Trail with neighborhoods and the Medical Arts District is finally moving forward after city commissioners voted to award an almost $2.2 million contract to David Nelson Construction Co. on Sept 15.
That project, however, has been scaled down from its earlier designs and no longer includes elements that were meant to promote the city’s branding for downtown, including two glass towers and new signage.
What it does include is developing the trailhead on both sides of West Bay Drive, modifications to 12th Street Southwest to provide on-street parking, landscaping, and adding several trail connections to the surrounding community. The contractor will sandblast and repaint the pedestrian overpass and make some minor structural enhancements.
Also, under the bridge will be a new midblock crossing with landscaping, a refuge at the center and a pedestrian-activated crosswalk with flashers.
“A gateway feature such as a monument sign or tower will be considered once the financial impacts of COVID-19 are better known,” said Rafal Cieslak, Engineering Services assistant director.
The towers and signage would’ve added almost $913,000 extra to the project. The city will save even more money after receiving a $1.18 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation.
Mayor Woody Brown said eliminating the towers and making it more affordable was the smart decision.
“I think that the real benefit of this project is not necessarily the tower and the monument sign,” he said. “I think the real benefit is the increase and the better connection to the trail for the Medical Arts District and neighborhoods around there and West Bay Drive and improving that whole system.”
Cieslak told Tampa Bay Newspapers that he is hoping to start construction by November.
On the other side of West Bay Drive, a plaza project on what is known as the triangle property is finally in the home stretch.
Numerous delays have stalled completion of the new gateway element that, when completed, will include a large internally lit “Largo” sign in front of a monument made of a wire green screen encompassed by glass discs lit by LEDs. It also will feature solar panels, new landscaping, hardscaping, and a meandering path that aims to safely connect pedestrians or cyclists from Bayhead Action Park to downtown.
Schubert said one electrical problem is holding up completion of the project, which began in October 2019.
“That is pretty much done with one outstanding issue,” he said. “For some reason, Duke is having some issues getting electric power to the corner.”