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December 1, 2015

community portrait

St. Petersburg & Clearwater

More than just gathering data, we're trying to capture elements that make each community distinctive.

StrengthS & Weaknesses

» Biggest strengths

» St. Petersburg — Abundant park space along downtown’s waterfront; small but vibrant downtown scene; active downtown after dark; array of restaurants; strong newspaper; beautiful nearby beaches; Major League baseball

» Clearwater — World-class beaches; Phillies spring training facilities; Minor League baseball team, Clearwater Threshers; the city’s key business leaders have a long track record of working together for 20-plus years.

» Biggest needs

» St. Petersburg — Limited supply of vacant land means limited development opportunities; only one movie theater complex (Muvico at BayWalk) in the city; struggling BayWalk shopping complex; homeless problem.

» Clearwater — City officials are working hard to redevelop downtown, which is surrounded mostly by lower middle-class neighborhoods, except for Harbor Oaks to the south; Scientology’s presence has deterred private-sector development downtown since mid-1970s; no first-run movie theater complex in the city.

» View from a Competitor

Florida Trend asked an economic development professional in a market that competes with Clearwater/St. Petersburg to assess the city’s strengths and weaknesses:

» Strengths: St. Petersburg has a wonderful and rich history, enjoying explosive tourism in its early years, followed by a powerful era of growth dominated by older Americans. It is now moving into a “second golden age,” with graceful parks and broad streets enhancing its favorable position on the water. These honored and protected assets mark the way for a pedestrian-friendly city committed to the “human scale” and contributing substantially to a sense of community, giving St. Petersburg a competitive “quality-of-life” advantage when compared to many other cities in Florida. This is especially true when measured against the aspirations of the “creative class.” The beaches, the marina, the museums, the weather, the many activities and events combine to make St. Petersburg/Clearwater a very livable place with a strong multigenerational and multicultural appeal.

» Weaknesses: Many community leaders across the bay from Tampa have a lingering identity crisis. This is also true for many business and government leaders. If St. Petersburg/Clearwater is to be a breakaway region, it needs to exploit its proximity to Tampa, viewing those living and working across the bay as fellow inhabitants, thriving in one of the most powerful economic regions in America. The area has the opportunity to position itself as a place that honors tradition and invites innovation when it comes to its urban infrastructure, its leisure and lifestyle amenities, its neighborhoods and its civic architecture. Confidently reaching across the bay means that St. Petersburg/Clearwater is ready to reach for a better future, successfully completing and complementing the entire Tampa Bay region.

Tags: Southwest, Tampa Bay

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