The Warehouse Arts District is one step closer to gaining an outdoor performing arts center, after the St. Petersburg City Council approved a zoning change Thursday that would allow outdoor performing arts venues in underutilized industrial areas throughout the city.
City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to amend St. Petersburg’s Comprehensive Plan, allowing an outdoor performing arts venue in Industrial Traditional (IT) zoning districts as a Special Exception use.
The change was brought to the city by private applicants Robert and Cherie Beaman, with a specific project in mind. They’re looking to bring a hot shop and outdoor performing arts venue to their two-parcel property in the Warehouse Arts District, located at located at 415 20th Street S.
Currently, both parcels are considered underutilized, the smaller parcel holds a metal building (vacant since 2012) and the larger is an approximately 1.8 acre empty lot (vacant since 1991). Now that the applicants have secured the allowed use for the parcel as an outdoor performing arts venue, they must apply for a Special Exception and gain approval through City Council for their site-specific project.
This privately funded project has strong support from other businesses within the Warehouse Arts District. Proponents, including former Mayor Bill Foster, who spoke in favor of the project before City Council both in January and February, say that the venue would drive visitors and economic opportunity to the area, while increasing the visibility of the Warehouse Arts District. The Council acknowledged that it had received 27 letters of support for the project.
Despite this extensive show of support, the city has outlined significant hoops to jump through for approval via the Special Exception. City staff requires that the applicants submit plans involving noise mitigation, business operation (including number of events, hours of operation, and whether the venue plans to serve alcohol), lighting and traffic circulation.
In the venue’s initial application submitted in August, applicants stated that the Dome Industrial Performing Arts Project will have “no negative impact” on residential neighborhoods. The proposed property is three blocks from the nearest residentially zoned property, and the applicants have promised to utilize sound dampening materials such as bamboo or other methods, including a sound dampening roof.
The applicants have also met the issue of parking and traffic circulation head on. According to the initial application, the project has already negotiated an agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays to lease parking from the Rays during special events.
Public hearings for the consideration of a Special Exception for the Dome Industrial Arts Project have not yet been set.