Officials for the City of St. Petersburg announced a revitalization-planning plan to find new ways to face the economic challenges of the city’s Midtown and Child’s Park neighborhoods. Pinellas County, Agenda 2010 and other civic groups joined forces with the city to develop these economic studies.
Officials say completion of the first step will be in the next 18 months; the result will be a growth strategy to increase economic opportunities in the city’s south side.
Today the city leaders began the formal process to establish parts of Midtown and Child’s Park as a Community Redevelopment Area (CRA). The city had developed similar CRAs for the areas around Beach Drive, downtown and the Dome Industrial Districts.
“We’ve seen the positive effects that tax increment financing can accomplish downtown, where new tax dollars generated by growth in the district went back to the downtown area to fund additional improvements there,” says Mayor Bill Foster, “whether it be streetscape, improvements to city facilities or assembling land for redevelopment.”
“I am optimistic the same type of multiplying effect will bring future improvements to the south side of St. Petersburg,” Foster adds.
CRAs allow the introduction of specific funding programs, called Tax Increment Financing, to promote economic development in the community. CRAs also let the city to sell city-owned land at a less-than-market value, as a way to promote job creation, supply community services, and provide residents with affordable housing.
“It creates an opportunity when somebody is considering investing in an area,” says City Council Chairman Karl Nurse. “We will have funding that can be used to make improvements around their project. That incentive has a real upside to it.”
Since Pinellas is a “Home Rule” county, the County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) will also be involved in approving the Midtown CRA. The BCC could approve the redevelopment planning process beginning as early as July 9.
For public input on the south side CRA, the city will host community-wide meetings July through September. A kickoff event will be Monday, July 15 at the south St. Petersburg campus of Pinellas Technical Education Centers.
PTEC is located at 901 34 St. S., in St. Petersburg. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Room G-8 on the second level.