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May 27, 2018

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St. Petersburg: Inviting, Inspiring and Growing Brighter Every Day

Lynn Waddell | 1/26/2018

Boutiques, art galleries, vintage furnishings stores, breweries, coffee houses, bike shops and more have opened like lilies after a summer shower. Craft breweries have become such an integral part of the local culture that the county tourism office offers beer trail maps.

New local and independently owned restaurants have put the Burg on the foodie map. In 2017, USA Today named St. Petersburg one of the “Five Under-rated Food Cities on the East Coast.” The city is home to celebrity chefs including Michael Mina and Don Pintabona at Locale Market and Jeremy Duclut of the Food Network show “Chopped” fame at Cassis American Brasserie.

“We’re seeing amazing growth throughout all of our districts and corridors, and we’re very excited about that,” says Kanika Tomalin, St. Petersburg’s deputy mayor. “Business permits and business registrations are up at record levels, and we attribute much of that to the alignment of the public and private sectors working together to create a viable economic landscape to not only attract great businesses, but create the infrastructure required to retain them.”

In 2017, a record $671.1 million in construction was underway. Though most was residential, many businesses repurposed existing structures. For instance, empty warehouses have been converted into artist galleries and sometimes former garages into restaurants.

The momentum attracts a variety of entrepreneurs and encourages the growth of existing companies. The city has 16,000 businesses and counting. Mayor Rick Kriseman’s weekly calendar is packed with ribbon cutting ceremonies.

As the local economy booms, the city government is also doing well, not only in revenues but also in finance management. In 2017, the Fiscal Times ranked St. Petersburg among the top 25 fiscally healthy cities in America, the only Florida city to make the cut.

With a cityscape dotted by cranes and new homes rising throughout neighborhoods, there’s no doubt about it. St. Petersburg is growing in ways that are strengthening its traditional appeal to tourists and retirees as well as becoming more inviting to millennials and business.

Most notably, three world-class museums are under construction downtown and slated to open in 2018 and 2019. A $79-million city police station rises on the edge of downtown with an architectural style that reflects the city’s welcoming vibe. The tallest building on the west coast of Florida — the One condominium tower — nears completion. An addition to the city’s largest shopping mall and multiple expansions of corporate offices outside downtown are also underway.

Beyond, the future looks bright as the city plans to redevelop the 86-acre parcel on the edge of downtown now occupied by Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. With or without a new baseball stadium, the property is slated for a research and tech campus, hotel/conference space, housing and retail.

Icon of the Bay

The $50-million New St. Petersburg Pier planned for opening in early 2019 is anticipated to be a defining city icon for decades to come. A 3,065-foot-long expanse stretching over Tampa Bay, the pier will be packed with varied potential experiences from fishing to concert viewing to fine dining. It will include an outdoor amphitheater, market space, transient boat docks, kayak launch, learning center, a park and more. A $20-million pier approach project will connect the pier to downtown.

Tags: St. Petersburg

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