Wednesday, May 13, 2015

St. Pete's Waterfront Master Plan...... "It's Like Hitting the Lotto" .....Take a look at the Pictures and note the areas flagged as "Development" sites.

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog .

St. Petersburg's New Waterfront Master Plan and the Ordinance adopting it was up for first reading at last Thursdays City Council meeting.

The St. Petersburg Waterfront Master plan is exquisitely done. It details the process, the participants, the stake holders, the objectives and the plan. You can see the whole plan at Downtown Waterfront Development Plan .

“It’s like hitting the Lotto,” Steinocher, president of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, said this past week. “It’s going to be transforming in front of our eyes.”

You can read more in the St. Petersburg Tribune, Steven Girardi, New pier is start of big changes for downtown St. Petersburg’s waterfront.

Steinocher's reference is not without merit, problem is the LOTTO winners will not be the citizens of St. Petersburg. The winners will be the developers who will use the Waterfront Plan to get access to property that normally would be out of their reach.

Why such enthusiasm by the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce?

If you read carefully the plan would be more accurately titled the "St. Petersburg Downtown Waterfront Redevelopment Plan. Neatly tucked into this plan is the proposed commercial development of a significant part of the water front. 

Take a look at the Pictures and note the areas flagged as "Development" sites.

There will be a lot made of the fact this is just a "Plan" and it all requires approval but the problem is the "Plan" will be trotted out as justification every time some developer wants build on what is now protected waterfront.

All of this should be enough to send you screaming to the Waterfront Charter Amendment Web site to get a Petition sign it and mail it in.

That's the only way you get a Ticket in this LOTTO.  

From the Water Front Plan
"The waterfront should continue to be an asset 
and venue for economic vitality for the entire community. Access to the water should be a source of social and economic value to the residential neighborhoods. The waterfront should be a place of economic activity for small business in niche locations to energize events and provide limited day to day comfort such as recreational rentals and sundries. And the waterfront should be leveraged as an opportunity
for job creating economic development to support the recreational marine industry, scientific research, education, transportation, and cultural tourism."
Economically Vibrant Downtown Places
·         Al Lang Field redevelopment
·         Pier uplands with restaurants and entertainment
·         Large covered market pavilion
·         Conference/Hotel destination near the South Basin
·         Arts destination - art trail & art “anchor pieces”
·         Leverage USFSP and other Innovation District institutions to improve K-12 opportunities.

A couple of the bullet points don't quite seem to fit the "small business" profile.

As I said above this is an exceptional plan. And the plan is needed. It's just like most of what happens when the waterfront is the issue, good intentions and hard work of volunteers is quietly hijacked by special interests.

As we have seen twice with the Pier, the public cannot trust the Administration or City Council to look after their interests on the water front. This Referendum puts you in the driver's seat.

There will be a lot of bleating about how this Charter Amendment will stifle growth and make things too complicated. My answer is that's simply not true.

What it will do is force developers to produce projects that will meet with public approval and that is a good thing. 

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