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City buys derelict house to expand ‘beloved’ park

Mark Parker



An October 2022 view of a home St. Petersburg city officials say contributes to inappropriate park uses. Photo: Google.

St. Petersburg officials are purchasing a dilapidated home that blocks views of city-owned Harbordale Park and provides cover for illegal activities.

City council members unanimously authorized administrators to acquire the property at 2405 6th St. S. for $239,000 and up to $10,000 in closing costs. They also approved transferring $350,000 from the General Capital Improvement Fund to the Harbordale Park Expansion project at the April 18 meeting.

The acquisition will facilitate several enhancements to the community amenity at 6th Street and East Harbor Drive South. Councilmember Gina Driscoll pulled the initiative from the city’s consent agenda as a “good news” item for discussion.

Driscoll called the park “beloved” by residents of the surrounding Harbordale neighborhood. However, she noted that the house has fallen into disrepair, creating security and safety challenges.

“There are good news reports, and there are great news reports,” said Mike Jefferis, community enrichment administrator. “I would argue that this is a great news report and an opportunity we’ve been looking for – for a very long time.”

He explained that multiple city parks, including Harbordale, have property anomalies that impede use. The home sits between the rectangular-shaped greenspace and 6th Street South.

An overhead view of the park (red) and subject property (right, white). Screengrab.

Jefferis said some 20-year residents “had no idea” their neighborhood had a park. He said the private property blocks the entrance and line-of-sight issues for law enforcement and recreation officials.

“Anything that happens behind that property really goes unseen,” Jefferis added. “And we all know … appropriate park users drive out inappropriate park users.”

The city will demolish the home, valued at $233,000 and $245,000 in separate appraisals. That will add about 5,000 square feet of contiguous greenspace to Harbordale Park.

Jefferis, who oversees the parks and recreation department, said his team would plant new trees, remove invasive species, resod the area and install irrigation and new signage. The park already features a playground.

Jefferis said Driscoll was “next to giddy” to learn the homeowners had listed the property. He also noted that Mayor Ken Welch was “very excited” to capitalize on a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to increase park space in a built-out city and neighborhood.

“We all know that land – they’re not making it anymore here in St. Pete,” Jefferis said.

A playground at Harbordale Park. Photo: City of St. Petersburg.

Franklin Alves urged council members to approve the acquisition. His mother lives across the street from the property, and Alves said he frequently visits the area.

He said the neighborhood association often conducts cleanup events to remove clothes, trash and drug paraphernalia from the site. “I’ve been accosted by people who work in the park and would like me to pay them for services … that I would like to not happen there anymore,” Alves added.

He said potential buyers quickly lose interest as the property is in “bad shape,” and the home is neither safe nor salvageable. Alves believes converting the land into additional green space would revitalize the area.

Councilmember Ed Montanari called the vote a “no-brainer.” He visited the site before the meeting and said it “isn’t very nice during the day, but I could just imagine what might go on out there at night.”

“It’s a beautiful little park,” Montanari continued. “Great neighborhood, great fit for our parks system. I’m very happy to support this.”

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  1. Avatar

    Beverly jung

    April 22, 2024at11:11 pm

    Was the townhouses for 800,000.
    By the yacht club? Curios where they were/ built.

  2. Avatar

    John Donovan

    April 22, 2024at5:52 pm

    Good work by city.

  3. Avatar

    Steve Sullivan

    April 22, 2024at5:32 pm

    I’m sorry but that was market value. I know you people are smarter than you are letting on. You just want to gripe. Just market is comparable sales market value based on last sale minus homestead exemption it is not market value. There is always going to be a discrepancy

  4. Avatar

    Velva Lee Heraty

    April 22, 2024at4:47 pm

    Why would they pay more than market value? Where is the extra money going? There are so many mixed messages. If it was a park where are the standard park signs? Was it a passive or active park? What district is it in? Can we please get more details? Who is really benefiting here?

  5. Avatar

    Steven Brady

    April 22, 2024at4:28 pm

    Not sure I understand where the disconnect is. The commissioner claims The Park is beloved by all. But another city employee with an unnecessarily obtuse job title noted that many residents in the very same neighborhood didn’t even know there was a park.

    Which was it?

    By the way, what is a community enrichment administrator?

    Maybe the home had no value at all, and the estimate was for land value only. That would’ve been interesting to know.

    Expanding parks is certainly a much better way to spend taxpayer money than projects for taxpayer subsidized “Affordable” housing where the units are going to total at least $800,000 per home. Yes, I’m thinking of those townhomes… Somebody should be fired for that one.

    How many other debacles are floating around like those?

  6. Avatar

    Steve Sullivan

    April 22, 2024at3:44 pm

    Who doesn’t know that just market is not appraised value. You !

  7. Avatar

    Karen Goodrich

    April 22, 2024at3:30 pm

    Well I’ll be. The just market value is $160,000 and was purchased for $239,000?

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