The implementation of the Live Local Act, promoting density in industrial areas, along with other pro-development legislation is paving the way for how the City of St. Petersburg is planning to build out the commercial corridors within the SunRunner route.
The 10.3-mile bus rapid transit line traverses throughout the city, connecting downtown to St. Pete Beach. Land use and transportation planning agency Foward Pinellas and the city’s transportation department are focusing on two main sections of the overlay that could bolster the desired housing inventory – 22nd Street and 32nd Street.
“We can proceed with a text amendment that allows us to move faster towards a final decision and adoption by staying within the [proposed SunRunner overlay] boundary,” Urban Planning and Historic Preservation Division Manager Derek Kilborn said during a Sept. 14 Housing, Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting.
He pointed to the developments in the Central Avenue Activity Center and 22nd Street corridor, which is lined industrial use that recently became a Target Employment Center (TEC) Overlay. A land study showed room for more development flexibility; therefore, the city staff recommends certain land uses, densities and building heights within that boundary.
However, the exact figures for FAR (floor area ratio) and the density have not yet been identified.
Through Senate Bill 102, known as the Live Local Act, density can reach 82 units per acre on parcels in commercial mixed-use or industrial-zoned areas. Building heights can match those within one mile of the subject property.
Examples of nearby residential developments include The Madison, The Beacon at 340, Urban Landings, Del Mar Terrace and The Salvadore.
Community stakeholders such as Place Projects, the Sankofa group that’s working on multiple projects in the Deuces, the Warehouse Arts District Association and housing advocacy group YIMBY St. Pete submitted an alternative map of the overlay with slightly different preferences and the boundary would taper off by Interstate 275.
“We never suggested this was the static and final solution. This would continue to evolve over time. We thought this was the most appropriate way to affect the will of the neighborhoods,” Kilborne said, referring to the city staff-reviewed map. “There’s been a lot of focus on two station areas. We are already proposing density and FAR changes in commercial mixed-use be increased.”
Kilborn’s team held numerous meetings with Forward Pinellas, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and consultant Kimley Horn to form the suggested overlay plans.
How new density and intensity could impact districts and neighborhoods:
Kenwood: The boundary line traces around the edge of the Kenwood Historical District. The city has noted the “strong comments from the Kenwood neighborhood about any encroachment” into the community, Kilborn said. “We felt with the NTM-1 [Neighborhood Traditional Mixed Residential] zoning, the character of the neighborhood was protected.”
He said the department has always invited neighborhood associations to the table and said the Palmetto Park Association intends to modify its neighborhood plan to be consistent with the overlay.
Committee members were in support of feedback from the Kenwood neighborhood and the staff’s ability to exclude it. “I like the boundary staff has put forward and agree with my colleagues about Kenwood,” councilmember Ed Montanai said. “I want to be sensitive to that neighborhood. It just gets back to the same thing that we’ve been working on for a while … it’s a balancing act of dealing with growth and protecting quality of life.”
The homes in Kenwood are single-family homes with accessory dwelling units, and some have been rezoned for NTM, which would allow up to four units on a property, Kilborn said.
“The challenge with transition is anticipating the historic district along the BRT line – how to transition from higher density to a much larger scale. In this case with Kenwood, there are craftsmen bungalows but on Central, we have building heights up to 72 feet.”
Warehouse Arts District and Deuces: Committee member Brandi Gabbard said the SunRunner overlay could resolve a long-discussed effort from the Warehouse Arts District to have more housing for transient and local artists to live and work onsite.
Kilborn said the team will research the existing legal language applying to short-term stays in the city and ensure any new development complies with the city’s policy. Outside of that sole concern, he said there is no objection.
Committee member Gina Driscoll made a motion to increase the density for the district to be consistent with the “blue urban” portion of the boundary map, permitting buildings to potentially reach eight stories tall with a 5.0 FAR.
There will be a Nov. 8 Development Review Commission workshop regarding the text changes for the commercial corridors and SunRunner overlay, followed by several public hearings starting Nov. 13.
The first St. Petersburg City Council public hearing will take place Jan. 4 or 18, according to the current schedule.