Mayor of Saint Petersburg Ken Welche led a month-long community discussion about what residents want included in the land development opportunity for the 86-acre Gasworks Historic District, home of Tropicana Field and the Tampa Bay Rays.
During the initial development of the site Too, a once prosperous neighborhood has been relocated. Today, new development plans emphasize leadership with equity – in hopes of fulfilling the promises made decades ago to the former residents of this neighborhood. Affordable, accessible and workforce-oriented housing were noted as top priorities, along with open spaces for local talent to perform and train, and skills development pipelines for new jobs.
This three-part community conversation series has reached some 1,000 residents and stakeholders, including more than 100 young people who will benefit from the space.
Young residents participated as part of various local youth groups, including Cohort of Champions, STORY 727, TASCO, Mayor’s Youth Congress, Mt. Zion Progressive Youth, Lewis Stephens Campers, and Midtown Youth Farm. They provided their own input on what they want to experience in space.
Welch said in a recent newsletter, “This multi-year project will come to an end as these young people enter young adulthood and the benefits and features will directly affect their lives as they build their careers, found their own family and forge a path. in the future under the sun of Saint Petersburg.
“Young people mentioned similar themes, including access to affordable housing, employment, education and recreation. Of course, there were also some fun ideas shared, including one of my favorites: Make the Dollar Store $1 again,” he continued.
During the third and final session, members of the public were invited to gather on the campus of the University of South Florida, St. Pete to participate in conversations guided by subject matter experts on priority topics. specific: Live – housing opportunities, work – business and employment opportunities, play/visit—recreation, entertainment, arts and culture. These individual topics were presented by President and CEO Mike Sutton of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties, Executive Director Alison Barlow of the St. Pete Innovation District, and CEO/ co-founder Alex Harris of the Conservatory of Arts for Teens (ACT).
The process included three in-person events designed to encourage small-scale discussions and live data collection. Participants were seated at round tables with a designated facilitator at each table leading the intimate discussions and gathering ideas and responses. Participants were also invited to join virtually via the City’s platform.
One of the themes emerging from the room was creating city-owned housing to better manage rent and housing prices to combat the profit targets demanded by private developers.
Community feedback is always collected online here.
A challenge exists in preserving the strategic growth and sustainability of the project as political priorities and leadership in the city evolve. Residents have expressed concern that the work done during the previous administration and this administration may not be honored by future leaders.
Daphne Taylor Street is a writer based in St. Petersburg.