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How the SunRunner will reshape St. Pete’s housing

Veronica Brezina



An aerial view of the Warehouse Arts District. Photo provided.

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. 

The city staff’s recommended boundary line. All images: City of St. Petersburg documents.

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. 

The SunRunner overlay, including the stations and identified place-making corridors.

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.” 

A Historic Kenwood home.  

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.  

RELATED: How WADA is working to retain creatives in the community

Next steps 

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. 

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  1. Avatar

    Rob Bolinger

    September 18, 2023at4:51 pm

    The sunrunner is a loser. You screwed up all the traffic along first avenue South and 1st avenue North.

  2. Avatar

    Andy Charles

    September 18, 2023at5:01 pm

    Kudos to the City and other stakeholders for moving forward with changes that will encourage alternate means of transportation (and reduce cars on the roads) & greater housing options, aka Transit Oriented Development (TOD). And by increasing density maybe – just maybe – we’ll see more affordable housing options for workers in the arts and hospitality sectors.

    As a board member of the Palmetto Park Neighborhood Association, I joined the consensus to support TOD.

    Personally, I sincerely hope our neighbors in Kenwood will reconsider their NIMBY’esque stance and join the effort to create greater liveability for all of us.

  3. Avatar

    Steve Sullivan

    September 19, 2023at10:40 am

    Andy Charles, are you serious? This is about neighborhood character and compatibility. Who wants a 30 story tower as your next door neighbor. Let the western side of 1st Ave N. Be the boundaries

  4. Avatar

    Pedro V

    September 19, 2023at11:11 am

    I like that they are more transit focus on their development, my biggest issue is that I hope that they incorporate a variety of different types of housing so it is not just apartments and shoeboxes. A good example includes the townhouses they are building on Central which happens to direct next to a SunRunner Station (which is a great service and is the step in the right direction to fighting against traffic). I also believe that neighborhoods like Kenwood should be preserved and only redeveloped to not only fit city limits but also fit with the feng shui of the whole community. I am looking forward to how this development will progress.

  5. Avatar

    John silversmike

    September 19, 2023at1:03 pm

    This does nothing more than help business owners on the beach. You literally can’t find parking anywhere. It is for tourists. Public money facilitated for businesses .Not impressed at all. If you don’t live on either end of it. You get to pay but never use it

  6. Avatar

    Steve D

    September 19, 2023at4:52 pm

    Rob, Steve, John: The bus has left the station! This is a sensible effort to accommodate and make sense out of what will likely happen with or without a comprehensive plan. I, for one, support it 100%.

  7. Avatar


    September 20, 2023at8:12 am

    This city had a plan in the 80s to bulldoze everything west from the city from 5 Ave north and south build high rises and add some green space. They are doing it a neighborhood at a time. Kenwood is on the chopping block
    The bus should have been placed on central. U have scooters that kill folks what’s next. So u built huge building on 5th and slowly wipe out kenwood. They have newer homes built without any historic style yet its a historic area. Shame on u

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