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The next phase of the city project will focus on landscaping and installing street lights and brick sidewalks.
By BRADY DENNIS
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000
ZEPHYRHILLS -- Thanks to a $600,000 grant from the state, city officials are set to begin a new phase of streetscaping only months after completing a $1.1-million downtown restoration project that attracted both compliments and controversy.
The city applied for the grant in late May and received a notice of acceptance in October from the state Department of Community Affairs.
"Zephyrhills has done a good job," said Rick Stauts, a planning manager with the agency, who visited the city and approved it for the grant.
"I'm very pleased with the appearance and outcome of the project they just completed.
"And if what they're doing is a continuation of that, if they do it with the same high quality, then I know we'll be pleased again."
As part of the program, Zephyrhills has agreed to match the $600,000 grant with $370,000 of its own money.
City Manager Steve Spina said the project would extend the renovations three blocks east, create more public parking and provide money to downtown business owners for building improvements.
"It's the kind of project that everybody can buy into," Spina said. "It's something that gives the whole community some pride."
Most of the money will be used to install brick sidewalks, antique street lights and new landscaping along State Road 54 between U.S. 301 and Fifth Street.
Around $200,000 would be made available to downtown property owners in the redevelopment district to improve the facades of their buildings.
In addition, Spina said getting the grant allows the city to apply for another $600,000 economic development grant to develop roads and utilities, paving the way for a planned Wal-Mart store on U.S. 301 north of downtown.
The initial streetscaping project focused on revitalizing the central business district.
During that project, Fifth Avenue and several side streets were repaved, and a new drainage system was installed. Workers tore up the concrete sidewalks along Fifth Avenue and replaced them with brick. The intersection of Fifth Avenue and Seventh Street was paved with a multicolored brick design. Antique lights were installed, and the street's median was landscaped.