Big Changes Coming to Williams Park
By JON WILSON, Consulting Editor, TB Reporter
The downtown green space will no longer serve as a major bus hub starting next month.
ST. PETERSBURG — First the bus shelters will go starting on Jan. 30.
Soon to follow will be more parking and a better bicycle lane on First Avenue N as the City of St. Petersburg and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority begin major changes at Williams Park.
The green spot in the heart of downtown has been a key St. Petersburg bus terminal since 1952, and is home to 16 routes. But that is coming to an end; dispersed transit service downtown is scheduled to start Feb. 14.
Among the expected results: a more welcoming park with plans for expanded programs, more public art and an enhanced link among nearby businesses and institutions such as St. Petersburg College. The first steps — bus shelter removal — is expected to be accomplished in time for Localtopia, a local business expo on Feb. 6 that drew large crowds in its first two years.
In other St. Petersburg business news:
- A high-speed ferry between St. Petersburg and Tampa is expected to begin a pilot program in October of this year. Docks would be situated in St. Pete’s Vinoy Basin and near Tampa’s Convention Center. The pilot program would last through the region’s peak tourist season, ending in April 2017.
- Creating jobs is among the goals of a new grant program aimed at improving the economies of several St. Petersburg neighborhoods. The Neighborhood Commercial Corridor Private-Public Partnership (P3) Program will address the lack of capital that has been cited as a barrier in South St. Petersburg, the Skyway Marina District and other areas. Eligible projects have to be on a commercial corridor outside of downtown. The project will come before the City Council on Feb. 4.
- Building is beginning to push south and west from a busy downtown. Komo Developmen has proposed the eight-story, 20-unit Vela for Fourth Avenue S and Seventh Street. Projected prices are in the low $300,000 range for a 2/2, 1,200-square-foot unit, and the mid-$500,000 range for the three penthouse units with 1,900 square feet.
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