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Gulfport to buy land for vehicle parking

The 1.36 acres will be used by residents who need to park or store vehicles that now may be parked in illegal areas.

By AMY WIMMER

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 13, 2000


GULFPORT -- The city has found a home for the commercial trucks and recreational vehicles that are parked where they shouldn't be.

The city plans to purchase 1.36 acres on 49th Street, and at some point the property also could house a community center or police substation.

Either way, the city hopes its investment will improve the neighborhood and help spur ongoing redevelopment of the 49th Street corridor in Gulfport.

Council members voted 5-0 to proceed with the purchase of the property. The city agreed to buy it for $315,000 after appraisals valued the land between $315,000 and $335,000.

"What it can provide to the city and to the Gulfport residents can more than make up for what would be lost by taking it off the tax rolls," said Jack Olsen, a member of the Gulfport City Council. "I think we're going to see a change in 49th Street, and I think it's long overdue."

City Manager Bob Lee announced last week that the city will purchase the site at 1617 49th St. S, current home of Bay Machines. The business will continue to operate there for as long as a year while the city begins to clear the back portions of the property.

Ultimately, Gulfport hopes the city project, still in its infant planning stages, will spur redevelopment along 49th Street.

The idea of a community center and police substation in the area has long been on the table for the City Council, though city officials remain unsure how they will incorporate either of those functions into this property.

Olsen added that he hopes the city's new emphasis there will encourage property owners to improve their homes and businesses as they see the city invest more in their immediate neighborhood.

Mayor Michael Yakes said landscaping will beautify the lot, where residents will be able to store their recreational vehicles or other equipment that runs awry of restrictions in residential neighborhoods. The council has not yet established policies or a fee schedule for the property's use.

The property is another example of Gulfport's experiment with using non-taxable projects to improve commercial districts. City Manager Bob Lee has credited the creation of Veterans Park and the new Latter-Day Saints church as helping property values along the Beach Boulevard area of Gulfport.

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