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Beaches notebook

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA, AMY WIMMER
© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 21, 2001

Committee balks at tall buildings

ST. PETE BEACH -- Buildings might not be so high along Corey Avenue after all.

A citizens' committee urged keeping downtown building heights at 50 feet, rather than the 75-foot height recommended by city planners.

Taller buildings surrounded by more open space are still in the works for "hotel row," as well as Blind Pass Road and Corey Avenue. But more study is needed before a special citizens committee will be willing to sign off on taller buildings in three areas of the city: gulf-front hotels, southern Blind Pass Road and the Corey Avenue business district.

Future of the City Planning Committee members urged city planners to consult with area developers to find out just what kind of development they would like to see in the three areas.

"What we need is information," committee member Nancy Markoe said Nov. 14. "What do they need to build? How many stories?"

City planners have proposed increasing building heights to create a new look for St. Pete Beach and make the downtown area more pedestrian-friendly. Beachfront hotels and condominiums could rise as high as 200 feet if more space were created to open views of the Gulf of Mexico.

Several residents objected to the proposed building height increases, arguing that the city should have a complete master plan before such major changes are considered or approved.

Jim Baillie said he prefers a smaller "village" atmosphere for the city. He also urged the city to encourage downtown residential development that would draw people with "spendable incomes."

"I don't want to look at high-rises. To allow (building heights) over 50 feet would be a huge mistake," Bill Allard said.

Other changes to the city's land development regulations affecting both residential and commercial districts were approved by the committee. These new regulations, which city planners said primarily reorganize and clarify existing rules, will be considered by the City Commission in December.

"We need to modernize our 30-year-old zoning ordinances," said city planner Jerry Speece. "Our ultimate goal is to have all land development regulations combined into a single document. This is the first step."

Speece said the new regulations will make it easier to identify all requirements for particular zoning districts, better define terminology, and "tweak the administrative side," particularly for the handling of site plans and appeals.

One of the new provisions allows the subdivision of townhouse development property. This would mean that townhome owners would own a specific piece of land, rather than an undefined percentage as is the case in condominium developments.

Indian Shores

The town's Hawaiian Luau on Nov. 3 unexpectedly generated about $700 in excess revenue, which the Town Luau Committee and Town Council have agreed to donate to Metropolitan Ministries.

The town did not plan to raise funds for charity. But the extra money was raised because sponsors and organizations that donated time and supplies kept expenses low, and the town decided to sell additional tickets to meet demand.

Vice Mayor Jim Lawrence said the town decided to donate the money to Metropolitan Ministries because so many people have chosen to donate to national organizations helping victims of the terrorist attacks, putting local charities in need.

Gulfport

The city's Public Arts Advisory Committee is seeking proposals from artists for a permanent public art display at the Catherine A. Hickman Theater of Gulfport, 5501 27th Ave. S.

The theme is the "Spirit of Arts in Gulfport." The committee is seeking proposals for the placement of a design for the corner area east of the main entrance to the theater.

Suggested media include ceramic and mosaic tiles appropriate for a seating area. Other materials are welcome. The media must be able to withstand the elements, including but not limited to rain and the heat of the summer sun.

The exterior area is not supervised or enclosed, so durability is essential. The artist must describe how the public art will be placed in this area and what enhancements or furnishings the artist may wish to have in proximity to the artwork.

The budget for the public art display is $4,250. The budget shall provide for a completed piece of art, including all materials, labor and installation.

Each artist must provide six sets of their proposal.

The submission should consist of a one-page typewritten description of the proposed sculptures and a drawing or series of up to four drawings (no larger than 8 by 11 inches).

The written description must specify the proposed size and media. Proposals are due no later than 4:30 p.m. Dec. 3. Proposals can be mailed or dropped off in care of Paula Cohen, city of Gulfport, 2401 53rd St., Gulfport, FL 33707. For questions, call Cohen at 893-1067.

To submit items for the beaches notebook, e-mail wimmer@sptimes.com.

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