Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

May 2016 bring you good health, love, success,  great joy, and peace.

Thank you for spending some of your valuable time this past year reading my Blog Posts. If you have taken the time to comment on one of the sites or on Facebook an extra special thanks.

The new year looks to be a very exciting time in the Tampa Bay area so please keep checking back on bay area PATCH sites, Eye on Tampa Bay and my flagship Blog site Bay Post Internet.

Have a happy and safe new year.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tampa, Tourism, Transportation and Taxes

Re-Posted from Eye on Tampa Bay

Surprise! A couple of taxpayer funded agencies have come out to support... a tax increase!

Without a better transportation system, tourism in the Tampa area is likely to shrink from its current record levels and the region will lose its capacity to draw businesses to the urban core, according to two groups that promote economic development.

Both Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Downtown Partnership sent letters Dec. 18 to the Hillsborough County commission supporting Go Hillsborough, an initiative designed to raise millions of dollars for an improved transportation system.

Both groups are urging the county commission to pursue all possible funding sources to create a modern transportation network, including a referendum for an increase in the county’s sales tax, higher gas taxes, and more contributions toward transportation from developers.
But we're told we have an awful transportation system as it is, yet we've done little at the county level to improve it over the last decade other than a failed attempt to jam light rail at us.

But the tourists are still arriving in Tampa at record levels despite our failures. Shhh... don't tell them they should not come here.

Did you notice they are for "referendum for an increase in the county’s sales tax, higher gas taxes, and more contributions toward transportation from developers"? How much money do they want? It is interesting that Visit Tampa Bay and Tampa Downtown Partnership are supporting two of three legs of the Plan B proposal made by Sandy Murman, I did not know they were evil anti-tax Tea Partiers. Of course, they apparently don't think transportation is important enough to re-prioritize the lack of investment in the current budget.

Then they compare us to several international cities.
When tourists visit Amsterdam, they get around the city by light rail, boat or bus sharing space with the local population. In London, Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C., it’s typically by subway, bus or cab. Panama City, Panama, has a system with 1,200 buses to take tourists and residents almost anywhere in the city.

When tourists come to the Tampa area, they have two major options — rent a car or take a taxi, said Santiago Corrada, president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, the county’s tourism agency.
I don't know for sure, but I don't think too many people are traveling to Amsterdam to ride their light rail, or Panama City to ride a bunch of buses. Tourists visit places because they have some unique attraction to offer, different than where they live.

Which begs the question. Why did they not compare us to some closer to home cities such as Orlando and Miami, both major tourist destinations?

Could it be that Orlando transit is certainly not any better than Tampa Bay area, and Sunrail has made no dent traffic relief or tourism? Could it be that Disney has chosen to transport thousands of guests around their resorts and attractions every single day by bus? Disney decided bust was the most flexible, efficient and cost effective way to move large numbers of people around their park. There is some reason they never expanded that monorail.

Could it be that Miami tourism continues to thrive, despite bad traffic and a rail system that does little for tourist destinations? Tri-Rail is practically non-existent as far as tourists are concerned.

Visit Tampa Bay recently reported some great news, as Tampa Bay tourism revenues soar nearly 20 percent in October.
Visit Tampa Bay and Hillsborough County generated nearly 20 percent more Tourist Development Taxes in October than the same month in 2014, according to the latest report from the county Tax Collector’s Office....
October’s bed taxes were the largest ever collected for that month....
Vacation travel to Tampa Bay was up 18 percent over the same month last year. The largest tour operator sending visitors to Tampa Bay say its business grow by 56 percent year-over-year in October. Vacation travelers make up more than three-quarters of Tampa Bay’s tourism business.
And this nugget.
As a result of such strong performance, Tampa Bay led its 10 national competitors in the rate of growth for hotel occupancy in October.
Hillsborough also continues to lead its competitors so far this year for growth in both occupancy and hotel profitability. Hillsborough’s competitive set includes: Orlando and Fort Lauderdale; Austin, Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; Charlotte, N.C.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Long Beach, Calif.; and Baltimore.
Someone should tell Visit Tampa Bay we have something those other places don't have that people are willing to spend their hard earned money for a visit to Tampa Bay.

Everyone likes our beaches
Meanwhile, the combination of recent spring like weather has resulted in traffic jamsaround Pinellas beaches.
Traffic jams and near non-existent parking spaces came with the crowds in many places.
Falkenstein said he saw two open spaces along the Pass-a-Grille beach just before noon, and traffic to Clearwater Beach was at a crawl for more than five miles.

Standard said it took about 30 minutes to drive from Plant City to Clearwater, “but it took 40 minutes to go the last six miles or so.” Sand Key, a county beach park, was one of the few places with open parking spaces.
We can be sure to add a train from Plant City to Clearwater into our transit plans. Let's check in on the progress in a couple of decades. But in the mean time, the tourists will keep on coming for the attraction of some of the best beaches in the world and the rest of the best Tampa Bay has to offer.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Ferry and the Numbers

Re-posted from Eye on Tampa Bay

By: Sharon Calvert
We like boating around Tampa Bay area as much as anyone. It's a great way to get another perspective on the area, and enjoy even more what our community has to offer.

The Tribune editorial yesterday was imploring Mayor Bob Buckhorn to join forces with St. Petersburg to bring in a ferry service between the two cities so even more people can enjoy the bay.
The cost to launch a pilot ferry service connecting downtown Tampa with downtown St. Petersburg is relatively modest when the entirety of the city of Tampa’s budget is considered.

St. Petersburg has committed $350,000 toward the project, and Tampa could be expected to contribute a similar amount to get the project off the ground and operating on Tampa Bay during the winter months next year.

Yet Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn seems reluctant to embrace the project. He says he doesn’t have enough information to know whether the private company that is eventually chosen to run the ferry service would bear the risks rather than the taxpayers.
Buckhorn is practicing some rare fiscal conservatism for him.
“What I’m not going to do is subsidize a private company and put all the risk on the taxpayers and have the private venture have none of the risk and get all the profit,” Buckhorn said. “That doesn’t fly with me. I’m not anticipating putting a lot of city dollars into this.
He hasn't taken this stand since he voted against the Tampa Street Car when he was on the Tampa City Council.

Will we get a ferry?
Regardless, the Tribune is undeterred.
The downtown ferry would take about $1 million to run a single boat for the winter, or $1.5 million to run two boats. Backers of the project want to keep the price of a round-trip fare in the neighborhood of $10, making it affordable.

Only half of the total expense to get the service launched and running might be recouped. But the public cost is justified. A pilot project would provide an understanding of how a ferry between the downtowns might work and whether demand is great enough to sustain a regular service beyond the pilot project.

The investment could pay dividends down the road if the ferry proves to be a successful way to get cars off the road and connect the two downtowns.
They admit the revenues will cover "only half of the total expense", but hope springs eternal.

What about "if the ferry proves to be a successful way to get cars off the road?"

Can the ferry really take cars off the road? This looks like another great opportunity to apply some 4th Grade Math.

St. Petersburg has issued a Request For Quotation for a ferry provider. The main requirements are that it must run at 25 knots (28.75 mph), and accommodate at least 100 passengers.

The distance across the bay from the the proposed Tampa landing at the Convention Center to downtown St. Petersburg is about 20.5 miles. Yes, it really is that far.

The Tribune states the trip will take about 50 minutes. It will arguably be longer, as there is a 2 mile no wake zone in Seddon Channel which may take 15 minutes alone. But lets' assume with boarding, the ferry departs every hour on the hour, for a 12 hour service day, or 12 one way trips a day.

Let's assume the ferry is a big success, and every trip is booked full with 100 passengers. That's 1200 ferry riders a day. However, most of those will likely be making the round trip, so that's 600 people a day total.

If we estimate automobile volume, at 1.5 passengers per car, that is 800 round trips, or 400 cars per day. As in "cars off the road" due to the Tampa - St. Pete ferry.

If  another ferry is added for $500,000 as may be considered, then the capacity can be doubled from the above numbers.

Now compare that to the major traffic route between Tampa and St. Petersburg on I-275. According to FDOT, the busiest segment on I-275 around Westshore is nearly 198,500 vehicles per day (two - way).

With the ferry, then, we reduce the traffic on the Westshore segment of I-275 to... drum roll, please.... 197,700 vehicles per day (two - way).

Evidently, they don't teach math in journalism school.

We could do the math comparing the the ferry to driving between the two cities, but you get the point. Math is cold, hard facts.

Now, there is a value for tourists to make a day on the ferry visiting the cities. Nothing wrong with that. Adding a ferry to Tampa Bay seems like an attraction that many tourists and local can enjoy.

But it won't make a dent in traffic reduction if we had 10 loaded ferries running between Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Whether the Tampa - St. Petersburg ferry should be backed by the taxpayers is something for another day.

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Guns another view – Sunday Post Comments

We have developed in our country, a culture of violence, aggression, and a very real lack of awareness of the value of human life.

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

It is easy to miss the "Comments" Section on a Blog Post. I don't normally repost reader comments but on the PATCH site there was an exceptionally insightful set of comments from reader mark Kamleiter.

Comment by Mark Kamleiter:
It would be naive to say that "guns" are the sole cause of the violence in our community and I do not think that was the message of either the mayor or those marching with him. Does ready access to guns contribute in a major way to the violent deaths in our community, in the country? The answer is undeniably - "yes!" Without question we have developed in our country, a culture of violence, aggression, and a very real lack of awareness of value of human life.

I have lived in countries with stricter controls on guns. Do individuals still become violently angry in this countries? Of course, the world still struggles with the violence and aggression everywhere. The point is that in these countries, when guns are not available, aggressive individuals reach for what is available. Doc. speaks of baseball bats. No, I don't want to be hit with a baseball bat, but give me a choice between an attacker coming at me with a bat or a gun, I will take the bat every time. Once in Paris, I came upon three young men on scooters attacking a single man at a bus stop. I tried to stop the attack and these boys grabbed bicycle chains and a small wooden bat and came after me. I am not big and not a fighter, but they backed down when I did not run. In the end, they ran away. If they had had a gun, I would not, today, be able to write about gun violence.

So, yes, I marched with the mayor. Yes, he is a Democrat, but I forgive him that. We need to stop making everything about politics. Were the mayor's motivations about doing the popular thing? Are you kidding? Americans are too much in love with their deadly, useless toys, for the mayor's actions to be popular. Guns make people feel bigger than they are, tougher than they are. They imagine themselves as rugged, tough individualist. They give no thought to the pain and destruction their guns can cause. They do not want to hear that guns cause more deaths by suicide and accident, than intentional deaths.

Thanks Mark for taking the time to share your thoughts they should cause us all, me included, to think carefully about how we deal with a gun centric society.

E-mail Doc at mail or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas from our Family to Yours

May the birth of our Savior and the Joy of the Christmas Season find a special place in your heart.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

T 'was the night before Christmas at St. Pete City Hall

Tis the season to be jolly.

St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb, PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want to Blog
T 'was the night before Christmas at ole City Hall,
The Mayor and the Dream team were having a ball.
The stockings were loaded with lots of good stuff,
Some recycle trucks so the old Nor'east won't be in a huff.

Downtown a new Ferry and condos galore,
A couple of new restaurants down on the shore.
A deal for the Rays and where they may play,
The problem may be if they decide to stay.

His Honor a glow at the depth of his touch,
A new pier, new approach, new murals and such.
The will of the people no concern they all sang,
Our select committees came through with a bang.

The King he joked and he laughed out loud,
The Kirby he penned a nice Tweet for the millennial crowd.
In the corner the Tomiln quietly biding her time,
Wondering if she would ever be allowed to shine.

Out on 5th Avenue there arose such a clatter,
They sprang to the window to see what was the matter.
It was the South and the West all looking for gifts,
Hoping for more than a few crummy TIFs.

The window flung open the Mayor appeared,
Some laughed and some cried, one applauded, some jeered.
Happy Holidays the Mayor he bellowed out loud,
Nothing seemed to please the contemptuous crowd.

Back in the room the Dream Team aghast,
Why are they so angry each one they asked?
They are all welcome to come to the new Pier,
To enjoy our new restaurants and have a cold beer.

The events may be restricted to just a  privileged few,
But most all can enjoy the wonderful view.
We are fixing the sewers and walking the beat,
Saving the Bay and making it safe on our streets.

We have removed all the buses and we'll remodel the Park,
It will be safe even after dark.
Why don't the love us at this Holiday season?
Maybe our arrogance is most of the reason.

E-mail Doc at mail or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Are guns really the problem in St. Petersburg or is the Kriseman Administration letting its citizens down?

It is easy to stand in a crowd like Friday's march and decry firearms as the reason for these recent incidents.

St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog.
Worry continues over the recent string of shootings in St. Petersburg and the worry is well founded. Friday's article in the Tampa Bay Times by: Hanna Marcus and Kathryn Varn, Times Staff Writers: As a community reels, St. Petersburg police find no pattern in string of fatal shootings sets the scene.

Marcus and Varn cut right to the point with their view about Mayor Kriseman's comments and proposals as "weak" and "not plausible.

Kriseman's public approach was a hastily arranged short march to allow for some expression of public concern and outrage. The march got some media time, produced a couple of sound bites but really accomplished very little given the Mayor's lackluster comments.

It is probably not fair to politicize these events, but Republicans have one view of this problem and Democrats have another and Kriseman being a good Democrat is singing the company line. Let's blame all of these issues on guns.

I agree we have a gun problem in the United States and quite likely in St. Petersburg. However, guns are the mechanism not the cause. If all ten of these homicides or even half of them had been caused by people being beaten to death with baseball bats would everyone be calling for stricter control on base ball bats?

The last time I checked illegal trafficking in guns was a crime and perhaps the St. Pete PD should be backtracking a little harder on where these guns are coming from a making some prosecutable cases on those providing the firearms. It is way past time to start taking some illegal gun dealers off the street along with the drug dealers.

It is easy to stand in a crowd like Friday's march and decry firearms as the reason for these recent incidents, but it could just as easily be a knife or a tire iron.

After promising the African American community just about everything you could think of to get their vote,  the Kriseman administration has really done very little to address the root cause of poverty and the conditions that lead to the level of frustration and anger that foment incidents like we have seen in the last few weeks.

A couple of hours of the Mayor's time marching down a street will not solve these issues.

Kriseman and his dream team need to stop playing to the millennials, the downtown rich, the Chamber of Commerce and focus on helping those in St. Pete who need it most.

E-mail Doc at mail or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Is St. Pete Police Chief Holloway's Park, Walk and Talk program working?

The don't snitch culture is still alive and well.

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

With a rash of shootings on their hands, the St. Petersburg Police Department is struggling to get information. Since November 10, 2015, six young St. Petersburg men have been murdered.

The St. Pete PD has been urging people to come forward, but it seems there is a lack of cooperation from the public.

All of this raises the question about how effective Chief Holloway's efforts at resolving issues with south St. Pete's residents have been. See more in the St. Petersburg Tribune article Police seek community’s help after another teen killed in St. Pete.

From the Tribune article, St. Petersburg assistant police chief James Previtera said, "Lord’s death is the sixth involving a victim between 16 and 25, a “frustrating” trend that highlights the need for anyone with knowledge of the circumstances to “step forward” and assist in helping find the suspect in this latest shooting."

There was more than a little frustration in Assistant Chief Previtera's comment, The police department can do our job and investigate evidence, but the best evidence we can have is an eyewitness, and we need this community to step forward as far as stemming this kind of violence. We need the people in this city — churches, civic leaders, parents to join with us and to get the word out to these kids.”

Apparently, the Park, Walk and Talk program is not producing the kind of results that the Police Administration hoped for.

The Park, Walk and Talk program is a slow and steady approach to the problem of police public relations in all of St. Petersburg, but in a world where the rate of everything is increasing at an exponential rate the old "cop on the beat" approach may not be working.

Some casual conversation, a smile and maybe a handshake from a Police officer who then gets back in his/her cruiser and moves on is probably unlikely to build the kind of confidence that people need to risk their lives when they inform on their neighbors or people transiting their neighborhood.

The don't snitch culture is still alive and well. New counter measures like the creation or expansion of cyber crimes unit with staffing to monitor local social media activity might be more effective.

The other response to the current homicide problem which has been voiced by the Kriseman administration is the easy access to and the large number of guns available in St. Petersburg. True these are problems, but they are unlikely to go away given our gun centric culture.

Typical of the response is the Mayor's March down First Avenue South from the PD Headquarters to 22nd Street. It all makes for a good media event, and some sound bites, but in reality, it will have no effect on the circumstances that lead to the recent six homicides.  

In fact, it would have made a bigger impact if the March was on 18th Avenue South.

E-mail Doc at mail or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

When will Go Hillsborough Go Away?

Reposted from Eye on Tampa Bay

By: Sharon Calvert
This just in from the Tribune.
Once slated for December, a Hillsborough County Commission vote on a sales tax increase for transportation projects is now likely to come no earlier than February, County Administrator Mike Merrill said.
More delays. But apparently its just hard to get all the commissioners scheduled and pay attention to what is reportedly the top priority for the county for years. They can't get a workshop scheduled about mobility fees in over a month.

Your tax dollars at work.

The workshop is now scheduled for February 4th. For now. The big vote on the plan for February 17th. For now.
In some ways, delaying the commission vote on the tax could be a good thing for proponents. Go Hillsborough is still under the cloud of a sheriff’s office investigation Merrill requested in September. Investigators are looking into suspicions about back-room dealings in the hiring of the Go Hillsborough consultant, engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.
In some ways, delaying any further activities on Go Hillsborough over the last couple of months, has been a good thing for Hillsborough County taxpayers, preventing more damage to their wallets.
Merrill said the investigation will be completed by Christmas, removing an obstacle that has stymied public deliberations on the transportation plan and tax. If no criminal activity is found, the public discussion can get back to what’s in the transportation plan.
Excuse me, but how does one of the.. no, strike that, the principal subject in the Sheriff's investigation, know the investigation will be completed by Christmas?

Another F-Rated road in Hillsborough - Bearss Ave
Mike Salinero, or perhaps some other dashing reporter, can you ask a few questions rather than take dictation?  Your last couple of dozen of readers want to know how and why Merrill knows when the investigation will be complete.
“I think it’s great that they’re taking the time to focus on projects,” said Kevin Thurman, executive director of the pro-mass transit group Connect Tampa Bay. “I think some of the politicians have been focused on the politics of this. That’s not where the voters want us focused.”

Thurman was referring to efforts by the tea party and other conservative groups to use the Parsons Brinckerhoff controversy to derail Go Hillsborough. At recent county commission meetings, the anti-tax activists have urged commissioners to shut down Go Hillsborough, thus scuttling the tax vote next November.
Thurman was referring to what? There is nothing quoted here about what he may have said about tea party and conservative groups, so again, Salinero is spinning on behalf of a transit advocate. I remind Salinero and Thurman, they've already lost the Sierra Club and others on this they know very well, not just conservative groups. If they don't know who else they've lost, well, they're not very curious or just burying the real story.
Commissioner Al Higginbotham, saying Go Hillsborough had “lost its way,” reneged on a campaign promise to support whatever plan came out of the city-county transportation Policy Leadership Group. The group voted 8-3 on Nov. 5 to recommend that the half-cent tax go on the ballot.
When Higginbotham professed his changed outlook on transportation a while back, the Tribune proudly stated he had "evolved". Now the recent information about Go Hillsborough shenanigans has raised questions about its viability, which Higginbotham has reviewed, he has "reneged".  Do you see what they did?

Of course, Salinero enables a Beth Leytham interlude to unilaterally defend herself despite all the evidence to the contrary. She's toast. None of her enablers will be giving her a dime. Why give her the time of day?

But they're already planning for the advocacy campaign, even though Go Hillsborough has not passed the commission, and the date keeps getting pushed out.
If the commission does vote to put the transportation plan and tax up for a vote, the county’s role in Go Hillsborough role will be over. At that point, business interests will lead a private campaign to pass the ballot measure. Beginning that campaign later rather than sooner may actually be better for the pro-tax forces, experts say.

“It seems to be the consensus that the shorter the private campaign the better,” Merrill said, “probably because it’s just a limited attention span and you want to have a more focused campaign that doesn’t get stale over longer period of time.”
If the commission passes the sales tax ordinance in February, Merrill said the private campaign could potentially start in March. 
Not too long ago, Merrill was stating they'd need a year to get their message out. He pulled that one cent tax rabbit trick out of his hat before he hid it again. This time, it's different.

Go Hillsborough is not a done deal. If it passes, then, and only then, will we see if the shorter campaign is better.

March is a rather short runway. Coordination and more cronyism anyone? Wouldn't be the first time.

With that logic, perhaps a commission meeting plan to vote on the Go Hillsborough October 2016 might be their best odds.

But it's best for Go Hillsborough to Go Away. The sooner the better.

We'll wait another year, and it will fail. We'll end up with nothing.

We're better off to pull the plug on Go Hillsborough and start working on realistic solutions within our existing funding. Now.

Go Hillsborough Go Away

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Something smells out at the PSTA

PSTA can't get Board chairman nominated legally

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

See Janelle Irwin saintpetersblog; Darden Rice nominated 2016 PSTA board chair

Then from Mike Ferrier and Mike Deeson at 10 News: 10Investigates Sunshine Law violation at PSTA.

According to the Ferrier/Deeson report, Pat Gleason assistant attorney general says the nomination vote and the vote by the entire Board today to elect Rice chairman next year is null and void and needs to be redone.

And from Janelle Irwin at saintpetersblog, Darden Rice sets right PSTA Sunshine Law violation.

Well voting again on something that was already a violation of the Sunshine laws doesn't exactly "set it right."

First of all, Darden Rice is always looking for something to add to her political resume because that what she does public service. So it almost is an intuitive given that she would jump at the chance to set in the lead chair on the PSTA Board.

You might want to shrug all this off as a simple mistake upon the part of Ms Johnson and Ms Rice, but both are seasoned politicians; both understand the Sunshine Law, and both should know better.

Deals or "understandings" no matter how innocent they may seem are inappropriate in a public body and Rice's ducking of the Channel 10 news teams direct question about the incident should raise further questions.

The PSTA Board has a less than stellar history over the past few years from their booting out Norm Roche to their continued support of Brad Miller as CEO after serious questions arose during the GreenLight debacle have been a classic examples of how screwed up this Board really is.

To set it really right Rice should simply withdraw and let the PSTA Board elect someone else as chair.  If she chooses not to withdraw her name from consideration, the PSTA Board should protect the taxpayer's interest and not confirm her nomination.

Let's not start out 2016 by approving something that was obviously done wrong and simply re-voting does not erase the violation that occurred.

Large amounts of Federal money are starting flow into PSTA again, and the Board needs to be pristine in its operation.  With Miller and basically the same GreenLight staff still in place the PSTA Board chair has a significant challenge on his or her hands to keep the PSTA administration in line.

Starting off with a questionable Board Chairmanship election process is just not the way to go.

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Friday, December 11, 2015

St. Pete Union Trust Bank Building to serve St. Pete once again

Many of us can still remember the bustling activity around the Union Trust Bank.

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

Nice article by Steven Girardi in the St. Petersburg Tribune Long-vacant historic bank could find new life as apartments.

This stately old building has sat unoccupied far too long. Many of us can still remember the bustling activity around the Union Trust Bank.

The plan is to use the old bank building as a cornerstone for the construction of eight stories apartment and retail space. Integrating the original building into the project along with carrying some of the features of the original structure and subsequent modifications into the new build will make for an outstanding place to live.

The building is designated as a historic Landmark (1998), which brings about a host of challenges but with Mesh Architecture and Tim Clemmons on the project attention to historic preservationist needs is all but assured.

The City seems to be completely on board, and redevelopment of this block would be a major accomplishment for the Kriseman administration and for all of downtown St. Pete.

E-mail Doc at mail or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.