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Potential changes ahead for downtown waterfront districts

Veronica Brezina



Sunset view from the St. Pete Pier. Photo: Bill DeYoung

Improvements from new docks to the protection of the shoreline are expected to take shape within the downtown waterfront neighborhoods. 

During the St. Petersburg City Council meeting May 19, the council members unanimously approved the first reading and public hearing of the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan and set the second reading and public hearing for June 2. 

The Downtown Waterfront Master Plan (DWMP) was adopted in 2015 to provide the first integrated vision for the city’s entire downtown waterfront to establish a master plan and policy framework of guiding principles for future decision-making. Every seven years, an update is presented. 

The character districts included within the seven-linear-mile-long waterfront master plan include: 

  • The St. Pete Pier District 
  • Coffee Pot District 
  • North Shore District 
  • South Basin District 
  • Bayboro and Salt Creek District
  • Lassing Park 

Ann Vickstorm, with the city’s planning and development services, presented an update and potential changes that may take place in the districts. 

The full 109-page report can be found here

For the 26-acre St. Pete Pier District, which opened in 2020, the key actions in the presentation include designing future overlooks at the seawall along Bayshore Drive both north and south of the pier, and the design of a future pedestrian bridge connecting the Museum of Fine Arts to the St. Petersburg Museum of History. 

The key items also mention that the Cross Bay Ferry, which currently docks at the Vinoy Basin, is scheduled to relocate its St. Pete terminus to the Pier within two years. 

Meanwhile, other potential changes may occur in the South Basin District, which extends from the pier to the Albert Whitted Airport. The possible changes entail expanding the boat slips, providing transient dockage, and developing small retail and concession nodes along the canal at Demens Landing. There is also a section in the presentation about evaluating parking lots for infill development. The parking lots around the Mahaffey Theater and the Dali Museum would be examined for additional cultural and civic uses and ancillary retail at the street level. 

Additionally, there is also the potential of redesigning the Saturday Morning Market parking lot into a multi-purpose plaza. 

Significant changes may also take shape in the Bayboro and Salt Creek District. 

One item for the district is to potentially develop a new museum institution, which the presentation did not include any specific details on, and another involves creating new deepwater piers to serve mega yachts, research vessels and the museum. 

Although there are many projects in the works or on the table for consideration, Lassing Park and the Tampa By Watch group will continue to work on its living shoreline project, which will help stabilize approximately 700 feet of the severely eroding shoreline. 

The presentation does note that active projects and studies may impact the DWMP in the future. These active projects include:

Albert Whitted Airport master plan
Stormwater master plan
• Marina/Demens Landing plan
• Coastal resiliency and community sustainability project
• Seawall height study

Other potential projects on the horizon that may impact the DWMP area include:

Center for the Arts master plan
• Downtown streetscape plan
• University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus master plan 
• Port master plan update

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