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Have Midtown ideas? Let's hear them

Changes to land-use rules in St. Petersburg are sure to affect the area.

By JON WILSON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG -- Economics, business and future Midtown wealth are on the table at a Monday meeting deputy mayor Goliath Davis says is vital to the area's future.

It starts at 6 p.m. at John Hopkins Middle School, 701 16th St. S.

The gathering is one in a series of monthly forums about changes to the city's land development rules, which could result in the biggest changes since zoning and growth generated hot debate in the mid-1970s.

Davis last month took the unusual step of sending a letter to business people and others interested in Midtown growth, saying it is "imperative" their ideas be included.

New rules will "dictate the future of St. Petersburg and Midtown with respect to business and housing," Davis wrote.

Midtown, formerly called the Challenge area, was established by former mayor David Fischer after the 1996 street violence. Economic growth was one of the categories designated to receive special attention in an area generally south of Central Avenue, extending to 30th Avenue S between Fourth and 34th Streets.

Census data have consistently identified neighborhoods in Midtown as among the city's poorest.

At issue will be what happens along business corridors such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and 16th, 22nd 28th and 31st streets S. Eighteenth and Fifth avenues S also fall into the category.

Another major concern is replacing population that moved from public housing projects and neighborhoods targeted for industrial development, but who indicated they would like to return to the area, Davis said.

"Households are essential to good business because you need someone to patronize," Davis said last week.

Lot sizes and parking requirements also have an impact on business development, and the "urban village" mix, with residences atop businesses, is a possible goal along strips such as 22nd Street, Davis said.

"If you are a homeowner, a business owner, a renter, or if you plan to own a house or a business, or if you're a young adult, these are issues you need to play close attention to," Davis said.

A March 10 land-use meeting will focus on the downtown area. The April 14 meeting will recap the forums up to that date.

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