Sunday, August 9, 2015

Welcome to St. Petersburg?

St. Petersburg, Fl.
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb, PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want to Blog

Coming across the Howard Franklin Bridge visitors are welcomed to St. Petersburg by a large portal provided interestingly enough by St. Pete entrepreneur Bill Edwards and not the City of St. Petersburg.

One would get the impression that the sign applies to everyone, but does it?

The last two Mayors have been fixated on the millennials as the future of St. Petersburg.

So it would seem if you were a millennial you are welcome to come as a visitor or as a resident. The City is especially welcoming if you are bringing some nice clean high tech jobs and even more so if you are interested in living downtown east of 16th street.

If you are baby boomer looking to retire, and there are still about 9,000 retiring every day, things are not quite so rosy unless of course you want to buy a $500,000 to $2,000,000 condo east of 16th Street then of course someone will be happy to take your money and point you to the nearest museum.

After that you're kind of on your own.

The last two City administrations have been fanatically fixated on attracting the millennials and trying to convince everyone else in St. Pete and themselves that the future of the community lies with this group.

I got to admit they are a great crowd, fun loving, lightly committed, smart, sharp and really fun to be around. I enjoy them greatly.

The question is can you really pack enough of them between 4th street and the waterfront to pay all the City's bills?

I would suggest as a field trip that the Mayor and the City Council go to the tallest building on Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg and look west.

Out there are working people, retired people and places for those from up north who would like to retire to buy property and perhaps renovate.

St. Petersburg used to have a pretty aggressive outreach program for all people who want to retire or live here not those just those who dress well, like wine, craft beer and expensive shoes.

It just doesn't seem like the City is as interested in attracting the retired, auto worker, school teacher, farmer, accountant or just average person as it used to be.

One of the major differences between the baby boomers and the millennials is the millennials tend to be mobile while the baby boomers seem to retire and stay put.

I'm all for bringing the millennials and their money to St. Petersburg whether they live on Beach Drive or Park Street, but it would be a grave error ignore the retiring baby boomers.

A strong stable retirement segment in St. Petersburg has been the underpinning of the City's economy in good times and bad. Continuing to be sensitive to the needs  the retired couple from the Midwest, the retired widow or widower living on social security and maybe a small pension is key to the economic vitality of the City and stable property values.

Is imperative that the Kriseman administration serve all of the people of St. Petersburg so when the millennials move on, and they will, the economy is still viable and the City is still an attractive and affordable place where people who have worked hard and want to enjoy their retirement want to come.

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