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Political Party with Adam Smith: Will growth kill St. Pete’s funky vibe?

Adam Smith



The latest edition of Political Party with Adam Smith features a wide-ranging discussion on growth and development trends in St. Petersburg.

Who the heck are these gazillions of people moving into the tony apartment complexes popping up everywhere in and around downtown?

Has St. Pete crossed the tipping point where unchecked growth and development is eroding what makes the city special?

Is gentrification inevitable?

Who will work at and run the independent, funky retail and restaurant establishments that make St Pete so appealing as housing costs keep rising?

Two thoughtful local developers, Bowen Arnold of Tampa-based DDA Development and Jay Miller of St. Pete-based J Square Developers, discuss these questions and more.

Steps that would help with the development of affordable housing, they said, include state legislators stopping the nearly two-decade practice of “raiding” Florida’s Sadowski Housing Trust Funds to fill other budget holes; developers contributing to affordable housing funds; and new approaches to zoning.

“Why do we need to have single family homes fronting on 22nd and 38th Avenue North?” Miller asked. “Might it be appropriate to permit small, multi-family buildings there, that are adjacent to transit potentially?” Miller noted that the public funding needed to make newly developed apartments affordable tops $60,000 per unit.

“In order to build the volume of units that are really going to be demanded, it’s going to take private sector approaches that don’t require public money, because no one wants to pay for the public funding,” he said.

Arnold marveled at how dramatically the rental market has changed in recent years. People who can afford million-dollar homes increasingly prefer to rent than buy.

“We’ve seen some really rather incredible income levels … It’s over $100,000 a unit, on average, for projects that have over 300 units,” Arnold said of one analysis. “We’re seeing people in sports, tech, law, medicine, finance, and they’re all living in apartments.”

Click the arrow above to watch the full discussion.

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  1. Avatar

    Diana Kane

    January 30, 2021at5:53 pm

    Hear, hear!
    There’s a reason I left South Florida for St Pete years ago. St Pete is still an amazing city, but gentrification has, indeed, occurred. After living here nearly 35 years, I’m 59 and considering moving because costs are too high and the funk factor is waning. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the arts community here, but the high-rises are cost-prohibitive for most folks and are stealing our sunshine.

  2. Avatar

    Peter Maradie

    January 29, 2021at6:42 pm

    Don’t Lauderdale St. Pete!

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