At the busiest times of the day, it can take a driver almost seven and a half minutes — 444 seconds — to get through the intersection at Roosevelt Boulevard and 28th Street North.
A planned road project would cut that delay to 48 seconds, a reduction of 89 percent, Evan Moray, the city’s transportation and parking management director told the St. Petersburg City Council.
The city council last week awarded a $1.6 million contract to Florida Safety Contractors Inc. to construct intersection improvements in the Carillon Office Park, the home to Raymond James Financial (NYSE: RJF), Franklin Templeton Investments, Catalina and other major employers.
Carillon and the surrounding Gateway area are the second largest employment center in the southeast United States, ranking only behind Atlanta, said City Council Chair Charlie Gerdes.
They are also a critical component of the city’s Grow Smarter economic development strategy, said Gerdes and Alan DeLisle, city development administrator.
Financial service business such as Raymond James are among the targeted industries in Grow Smarter. So when Raymond James wanted to expand, the city stepped in to help.
The city’s toolbox to help businesses includes transportation projects, and that was key in the negotiations with Raymond James, DeLisle said.
“Raymond James has agreed to create 650 jobs on site. They bought three new buildings up there. They’re renovating all three and placing employees in those buildings, and that has all come about over the last two years,” DeLisle said. “If you looked at information in our state of the economy address, our median income is increasing substantially. From last year to this year, there was a $3,000 increase in our median income. The Grow Smarter strategy is all about that and it’s starting to take hold.”
The Carillon project includes roadway improvements, traffic mast arm signals, drainage, signs and pavement markets, landscaping and lighting at three intersections: Ulmerton Road and Carillon Parkway/Egret Boulevard; Roosevelt Boulevard and 28th Street North/Lake Carillon Drive; and Carillon Parkway and Lake Carillon Drive.
The projects will cut a substantial chunk of travel time for workers coming from all directions, Moray said, with the biggest time savings for drivers coming from St. Petersburg.
“People could realistically expect their travel commute time in the morning is reduced by five minutes,” with a similar reduction in the afternoon, Moray said. “Ten minutes is a lot.”
The project comes as the Carillon area continues to expand. Echelon LLC, the real estate company that developed Carillon, currently is developing Echelon City Center, a 20.5 acre mixed-use, pedestrian friendly urban development with dining, entertainment, hotel, retail, residential and office components.
“That is going to become a destination, which is long overdue for the district,” said City Council member Brandi Gabbard.
The developer recently broke ground on Grove Isle at Echelon City Center, a 298-unit apartment project at Fountain Parkway and Carillon Parkway, she said.
“So improvements like this will make it so much easier to get through and put us in line to handle those residents,” Gabbard said.