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City Council’s Steve Kornell says Southside CRA is ‘fantastic’

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council unanimously approved the long-awaited Southside Community Redevelopment Area at its meeting Thursday.

The plan creates a special taxing district for areas of South St. Pete including two of the city’s poorest neighborhoods – Child’s Park and Midtown. It establishes tax-increment financing for the area to pay for things less typical than in other TIF districts.

Most notably, the plan includes financing for affordable housing rather than just beautification projects like streetscaping.

The boundaries of the newly created district span Fourth Street west to 49 Street and Second Avenue North south to 30 Avenue South. The area is home to nearly 35,000 people and a good third of those residents live below poverty.

Nearly half of the area’s kids are living in poverty. The area is also rife with blighted homes.

Council member Steve Kornell represents the district directly south of the established Community Redevelopment Area. He’s thrilled about the plan.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Kornell said. “Especially for me and my district.”

That’s because the plan will complement another measure passed at Thursday’s meeting – a zoning change for the Skyway Marina District that will allow developers to build large housing units.

“We need to bring in employment,” Kornell said. “That’s going to be great not just for the Skyway Marina District, but for the area north of it that’s in the CRA.

Kornell’s zoning change covers an area east and west of 34 Street from 54 Avenue South to the CRA’s southern border at 30 Avenue South.

He said the zoning change will bring housing to an area where people can find work and will potentially bring jobs to people who can now find housing in the CRA.

Kornell sees an immediate potential for employment opportunities under the two plans, but is most pleased with the Southside CRA’s long-term goals.

“These problems didn’t happen overnight and they’re probably not going to get solved overnight,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Pinellas County Commission also approved the CRA. Their approval was needed because the funding sets aside county dollars.

The combination of board approvals means the new CRA officially has the green light.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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