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St. Pete officials eye changes on 34th Street, invite residents to ‘name that district’

Margie Manning



34th Street North at 17th Avenue in St. Petersburg

“St. Pete Towne Centre,” “Heart of St. Pete” and “34th Alive” are some of the early names that have emerged for the district around 34th Street and Central Avenue, as St. Petersburg officials work to revitalize the area.

Residents, employees at area businesses and others were invited to “name that district,” one of several exercises at a workshop Tuesday on the 34th Street North and Central Town Center Improvement Plan. The plan is designed to improve the aesthetics, enhance the identity, encourage investment and increase opportunities for businesses within the district, according to the city’s website.

The 275-acre district runs along 34th Street from 22nd Avenue North to 3rd Avenue South, and includes a few blocks on either side of 34th Street as well. It takes in six neighborhoods — Disston Heights, Ponce De Leon, Central Oak Park, North Kenwood, Historic Kenwood and Palmetto Park — and is home to points of interest such as the Jim & Heather Gills YMCA, the main branch of the U.S. Postal Service, and Sam’s Club, Walmart and Publix stores.

The Grand Central District is to the east, and the city wants to build on the popularity of identifying specific geographic areas as districts.

“We’re looking for a name and identity to make it a place worth caring about, that people want to go to and spend time in,” said Hanna Shaffer, a planning analyst at Kimley-Horn, a consulting firm working with the city on the project.

She had a display of historic photos of the area designed to spark attendees’ imaginations.

“Central Plaza used to be a big meeting space in the community. How can we bring that back and how can we play off that with a branding name? The Suncoast Highway — 34th Street  — was the major gateway into St. Pete and to the beaches,” Shaffer said.

Tuesday’s meeting was the second in a series to get input on the plan. Top priorities that emerged from an initial workshop in January included more parks and open spaces, walking and biking options, new development and improved transit, said Jared Schneider, a transportation and urban planning professional at Kimley-Horn.

He also displayed a word cloud that highlighted workshop participants’ vision for the area.

Preliminary recommendations include:

• Improve several intersections in the area and fill in sidewalk “gaps”

• Implement St. Petersburg Complete Streets, including separated bike lanes on 9th Avenue North

• Develop more parks and greenspace, with landscaping in the median of 34th Street

• Consolidate Route 34 bus stops

The area includes the proposed Bus Rapid Transit system on 1st Avenues North and South, and a potential US 19 Express bus route also is under consideration by PSTA, planners said.

The city has posted a survey online to get additional input. Click here to take the survey.

Another workshop will take place in October, with final recommendations expected around the end of the year.

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