Corey Avenue District Plan | Summary of Findings 2013
- November 28, 2016
Corey Avenue District Enhancement Project
Following more than a decade of planning efforts in the Corey Avenue District, the City of St. Pete Beach initiated the Corey Avenue District Enhancement Project in 2013. Building on these past efforts, the enhancement project will develop tools to guide physical improvements and development on Corey Avenue and the downtown, through:
- Streetscape and gateway enhancements;
- Circulation improvements for bikes, pedestrians, automobiles, and transit;
- Redevelopment opportunities; and · Recommendations for the City development code.
These concepts and recommendations for implementation will be conveyed through illustrations and text. A large “vision poster” will show a summary of the vision for the Corey Avenue District, including a concept plan drawing that provides a bird’s eye view of the envisioned future downtown area.
About this Summary
This report summarizes three days of community engagement activities that were held during Community Visioning Week in November 2013. It begins with a description of the activities, then provides the major themes that were heard in community comments. These community ideas and comments will play a primary role in shaping the project concepts and recommendations.
The development of conceptual plans and design concepts for Corey Avenue and downtown will continue into 2014, and presented to the community for additional feedback in the early spring. Based on this feedback, the plans and concepts will be refined for final community review and approval by the Planning Board and Commission, which is anticipated to occur in summer 2014.
2. COMMUNITY DESIGN WEEK
Community Design Week provided three days of opportunities for property owners, business owners, and interested community members to provide ideas and feedback about Corey Avenue District enhancements. From Tuesday, November 19 through Friday, November 22nd, 2013, a team of community planners, landscape architects, and transportation engineers from Michael Baker Jr., Inc. worked in St. Pete Beach and engaged in the following activities:
- CRA Workshop
- Breakfast Meet & Greet with Local Merchants
- District Walks
- Couplet Discussion Group
- Design Workshop
- Stakeholder Interviews
- City Commission Workshop
Each activity is described below.
All of the following activities were open and advertised to the public as opportunities to participate in Community Design Week. Notes from these activities are provided in the Appendix.
CRA Workshop | Tuesday, Nov. 19
The first event of the week was a workshop about the update of the Community Redevelopment Area which had the largest attendance of all the week’s activities, indicating a high level of community interest in the Corey Avenue District Enhancement Project. This meeting provided an overview of what the CRA is, and its connection to the downtown project, before engaging participants in identifying specific outcomes that the community would like to accomplish through the CRA.
Breakfast Meet & Greet with Local Merchants | Wednesday, Nov.20
Downtown business owners and employees attended this breakfast in the City Commission Chambers and informally exchanged ideas with the project team about the Corey Avenue District.
District Walks | Wednesday, Nov. 20 & Thursday, Nov. 21
Community members joined project team members on two daytime walks and an evening walk along different routes through the Corey Avenue District, making observations along the way and discussing ideas for improvements.
Couplet Discussion Group | Wednesday, Nov. 20
A session was held at City Hall to discuss the idea of creating a set of one-way segments that would circle around Corey Avenue on Blind Pass, 75th Avenue, Gulf Boulevard, and 73rd Avenue. This idea has been discussed in previous public forums but no definitive decision has been made to proceed.
Design Workshop | Wednesday, Nov. 20
A hands-on workshop was held at the Community Center that asked participants to provide feedback on, and improve upon, the major ideas from previous planning efforts in the Corey Avenue District. Participants then took a visual preference survey, using electronic polling devices to provide instant feedback on a series of images shown on screen. The images portrayed different types of city streetscapes, landscaping, public spaces, pathways, signage, and other elements of urban design that would define the “look” and function of the Corey Avenue District.
Stakeholder Interviews | Wednesday, Nov. 20 & Thursday, Nov. 21
Project team members met with over a dozen community stakeholders to hear their perspectives on downtown, in a series of half-hour individual and small-group interviews. Interviewees included City Commissioners, Planning Board members, downtown property and business owners, Chamber representatives, the Corey Avenue Business Association, and representatives of Secrets of the Sea Marine Exploration Center and Aquarium.
City Commission Workshop | Thursday, Nov. 21
Ideas from the week’s activities were presented to the City Commission for feedback from Commissioners and members of the public in attendance.
Findings & Direction
Throughout the various activities of Community Visioning Week, some major topics emerged in community comments which are described below.
Corey Avenue CHARACTER, SENSE OF PLACE & IMAGE
Improvements such as landscaping, signage, gateways, and public art will help establish a “look” for the Corey Avenue District. Community members want a look that is uniquely St. Pete Beach—colorful and alive, an “upscale beach” style that avoids overly whimsical or garish use of icons that can make a beach feel more like a theme park. It should be accessible and comfortable: “everyone’s downtown”, “relaxed, but not lazy.”
Corey Avenue AMENITIES
Community members made it clear that making the Corey Avenue District a more pedestrian friendly area should be a priority. This can be partly achieved through amenities that make it comfortable to walk, sit, and enjoy the area. Participants felt that public restrooms and lighting are needed. They liked the idea of outdoor dining, including temporary “parklets” that convert some parking spaces into seating or dining areas. Amenities should be changeable rather than static—movable and usable for more than one purpose.
Corey Avenue GATEWAYS
As part of their interest in creating a greater sense of place in the Corey Avenue District, community members asked for gateway or entrance improvements. Gateways communicate to people that they are entering a special place.
The entrance to the city on 75th Avenue could be demarcated by a pedestrian bridge or gateway arch. There are potential locations for Corey Avenue District gateways around the “heart” of Corey Avenue between Gulf Boulevard and Blind Pass Road as well as at Sunset Way. Smaller,secondary gateway treatments could be created at any of the street corners between 75th and 73rd .
Gateways may be created in many ways:
- Streetscape features
- Public art
SUNRISE – SUNSET
“Sunrise to sunset” activity in the Corey Avenue District continues to be an important goal—extending the district physically from the eastern shore to the western shore, and extending activity throughout the day and evening. Community members had many different suggestions for increasing activity, including:
- Signature projects – New development or redevelopment to provide significant new activity nodes.
- Public space – Creating places to enjoy and hold events.
- Views/vistas – Taking advantage of the location and ocean views.
- Pedestrian connections – Encouraging people to “park once” and walk between different activities.
- Fishing pier and boat docks/marina – Promoting more active use of the ocean.
- Festivals, events, and performing arts – Whether in the street or in a theatre, creating more opportunities for enjoying culture and community.
- Hotel and residential uses – Building a captive audience of downtown patrons.
- Businesses – Supporting a strong business mix consistent with the desired district image and activities.
- Safety – Enhancing the sense of safety to encourage walking and evening activity.
Corey Avenue REDEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Vacant land and buildings provide key opportunities for redevelopment and re-use. Most obvious is the large parcel at the “sunrise” end of Corey Avenue, but other sites are scattered throughout the district. Community members are excited about the possibility of the Secrets of the Sea aquarium locating in the former police station building. They also hope to revive the Beach Theatre.
Corey Avenue ARCHITECTURE & USE
Community members want to see a diverse mix of architectural styles, colors, and scales that retains the current character. Shade features such as awnings and balconies can provide continuity between these diverse building types, as can the use of attractive, high-quality signage. As noted in “Sunrise to Sunset” above, community members hoped to see more hotel uses and mixed use buildings that include residential units.
Corey Avenue COUPLET
Based on community input during Community Design Week, the City Commission gave the project team direction to move forward with designing options for a couplet of one-way streets that would encircle the heart of the Corey Avenue District on 75th Avenue, Gulf Boulevard, 73rd Avenue, and Blind Pass Road.
There are still concerns about the couplet which should be addressed in the design. These include the potential to make businesses less visible to drivers, possible driver confusion, creating issues on other streets from diverted/shortcut traffic, and disruption to businesses during construction.
However, there is much that could be gained, as the couplet would create areas for street beautification and on-street parking while improving traffic flow and intersection safety.
As the Corey Avenue District Enhancement Project continues, the community will continue to be engaged in exploring couplet design options.
MOBILITY & CONNECTIVITY OF COREY AVENUE
The ease and safety of getting around the Corey Avenue District on foot, bicycle, car, and transit is key to its success. Themed wayfinding signage would help direct visitors to attractions and parking while promoting a visual brand for the district.
As mentioned above in “Amenities”, community members want to see a better pedestrian environment—with safe street crossings, landscaping that buffers sidewalks from vehicle traffic, more pedestrian connections, shade during the day, lighting at night, and shelter from rain. Fortunately the Corey Avenue District has a street grid that is suitable for pedestrian circulation. This network can become even more interesting and convenient for walking if alleys are improved to function as attractive, narrow pedestrian-oriented streets.
Community members also suggested accommodating bicycles in the district, having a water taxi service, and improving trolley stops.
PARKING ON COREY AVENUE
Parking is important to downtown businesses and visitors, who want spaces to be easy to find and inexpensive. Ideally visitors will be able to park once, and walk or take transit to make multiple stops throughout the district.
A study of the existing parking supply and utilization would illuminate opportunities to better manage the available parking spaces. Parking management strategies include shared parking, relaxed parking requirements for businesses/properties, installing signage to direct people to nearby spaces, and valets.
There are opportunities to create more spaces through the couplet design described above and the new library parking lot. Ultimately, as downtown develops, there may be enough parking demand to make structured parking a feasible option.
Community members had many thoughts about how to implement improvements in the Corey Avenue District, including the following:
- Identify funding needs and potential sources
- Leverage the Community Redevelopment Area as a tool for implementation (ASAP!) §
- Remove obstructions in the City development code
- Foster a desirable mix of business types
- Create a comprehensive plan
- Leverage FEMA funding
- Allow transitional uses
- Focus economic development efforts
- Use marketing and promotion to boost the visibility of the Corey Avenue District
As described in the Introduction, the next step in the Corey Avenue Enhancement Project will be to develop draft concepts and bring them back to the community for further input.
This information can be found on the city website: www.stpetebeach.org/news-and-links/corey-avenue-district-plan.html