Date: September 29-October 4, 2013
Topic: Economic Development and Downtown Revitalization
Location: St. Petersburg, FL
Sponsor: City of St. Petersburg
Panel Chair: Mike Higbee
PANEL BACKGROUND AND ASSIGNMENT
In September, the City of St. Petersburg, Florida, invited ULI to evaluate the downtown waterfront and identify its competitive advantage in the context of the adjacent downtown area and the Tampa–St. Petersburg region. More specifically, the panel spent time with the complete array of downtown waterfront assets, ranging from open space to facilities such as Al Lang Field and Albert Whitted Airport, to determine how they contribute to the long-term benefit of the waterfront, St. Petersburg’s residents, and visitors.
St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront is a generally continuous seven-mile public waterfront that has remained mostly untouched by private development since its establishment in the early 1900s. The large study area was broken down into North, Central, and South sections for analysis.
The panel’s effort involved evaluating the following issues, among others: how the waterfront affects downtown development, what urban design concepts can benefit the waterfront’s development, what transportation links are needed, and what potential economic opportunities emanate from the waterfront.
Harnessing the potential of local demographic shifts and economic activity, particularly in Central and South study areas was a key focus. The panel strongly agreed that a link from the downtown economic engine to the downtown waterfront is essential for both to prosper.
Among the panel recommendations were:
- Add a fixed-transit system to better link with larger transit and light-rail plans in the region
- Create better street frontages with human-scale interface
- Expand public art and add museums to the downtown waterfront
- Reduce parking space for public use and program events to include other sites beyond the waterfront
- Support bike share programs and improve bike parking and lanes
- Create a convertible street on the waterfront edge to enhance walking and biking
- Build a moveable bridge for active use along the waterfront