Home News St Pete Rising – Here’s what’s next for Grand Central District

Grand Central District

April 9, 2024

Additional bike lanes, walkways with immersive art, more crosswalks, and intentional development offering a balance of residential and commercial uses are envisioned for the future of the Grand Central District.

Read full article with visuals here St Pete Rising

In partnership with planning firm WSP, the Grand Central District Association has completed a master plan study, which offers a variety of recommendations to aid in the future growth of St. Pete’s main street just west of downtown St. Pete.

The Grand Central District is bound by 16th Street to the east, 31st Street to the west, 1st Avenue North, and 1st Avenue South.

The walkable neighborhood is home to over 450 businesses, including some of St. Pete’s most popular restaurants, bars, coffee shops, breweries, and boutiques

“The purpose of the master plan is to give planners and interested property stakeholders a template,” GCDA Executive Director Chris Arnold said in a conversation with St. Pete Rising.

“We’ve worked on this for over two years, looking at different scenarios and solutions for preserving the character of the neighborhood while increasing density and public safety.”

The district started gathering public input in 2022. In 2023, they developed the master plan framework. This year, the group has formalized the recommendations, action plans, and project cost estimates.

Readers are drawn to the illustrations showing the activation of intersections with public and immersive art and enhancements to the sidewalks with curb extensions. While the plans are exciting, there’s a high cost to reach such ambitious placemaking.

“The city doesn’t have all the funding needed to implement all of the plan’s recommendations, and we are also facing recommended regulatory changes like code and height restrictions,” Arnold said.

“We are chipping away at what we can do with the available funding and people donating their time.”

Enhancing and embracing the Central Avenue pedestrian experience

The to-do list calls for pocket parks in vacant lots and facade enhancements along Central Avenue while putting pedestrian safety at the forefront.

“Pedestrian safety takes priority. We’ve been trying to get crosswalks and a traffic light across 1st Avenue North and South. There are six blocks people treat like a drag strip,” Arnold said. “If we are going to spend money, that’s where it’s going first.”

“Our second concern in the district is parking. We don’t have the land to build a giant parking garage unless the city or a private party acquires land and develops a garage,” Arnold said. “The lanes for the new SunRunner [St. Pete’s 10.3-mile bus rapid transit line] took a lot of parking spaces.”