LARGO — By the end of the year, the southwest corner of West Bay Drive and Seminole Boulevard is expected to have a whole new look.
On Aug. 6, commissioners unanimously approved a $505,845 contract with Seffner-based BrightView Landscape Development to construct a new plaza that city officials say will serve as a signature landmark feature for downtown.
According to Planning Manager Rick Perez, construction of the project, which is expected to begin in the next two weeks, 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.
The gateway element in the West Bay Drive Community Redevelopment District also will feature solar panels and a meandering path that aims to safely connect pedestrians or cyclists from Bayhead Action Park to downtown and away from the railroad tracks immediately to the west.
The designer of the project, Booth Design Group, said the architecture includes a nod to Largo’s agricultural history because the wire screen with lighted discs can be interpreted as an orange tree or grove in a new or modern way.
Perez said construction on the .69-acre triangular piece of green space that was once a used car lot is expected to last 120 days. He said BrightView expects there to be periodic closures during normal business hours on the southbound lane of Seminole Boulevard in November.
BrightView was one of three firms to bid on the project, which will be funded mainly through the Community Redevelopment Agency Trust Fund. The remaining 8 percent of the funding will come from the city’s tree fund.
The design of the plaza included ideas from resident advisory boards and members of the Largo Area Historical Society, Suncoast Performing Arts Foundation and Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce.
The city’s history at that intersection, however, means not everyone is happy with a plan to spend half a million dollars on a landmark feature.
In 2009, the iconic Largo Clock Tower, which was constructed at the southeast corner of East Bay Drive and Seminole Boulevard shortly after completion of Largo Central Park, was demolished because of the tower’s decay.
Largo resident Geoff Moakley said the monument sign for Central Park should be enough and called the new plaza a “monstrosity.”
“It does nothing to promote central Largo,” he said. “Twenty years from now, another commission will have this lackluster feature demolished.”