Keeping our Members, Friends and Neighbors in the Loop
SKYWAY PLAZA REVITALIZATION UPDATE
As the result of an ongoing collaborative partnership among the GPPCA, Bahama Shores, Lakewood Terrace, and Bayou Highlands neighborhood associations, a special meeting with the Florida Housing Coalition (FHC) was held at Lake Vista Center on February 12, 2019. The purpose of the meeting was to give residents of the communities the opportunity to weigh in on their vision/desires for the revitalization of the Skyway Plaza Shopping Center located at Dr MLK Jr St S and 62nd Ave S in Greater Pinellas Point.
The FHC has been selected by Fannie Mae to compete in a national project called the Sustainable Communities Innovation Challenge (The Challenge). The $10 million award focuses on 'adaptive resuse' of vacant commercial spaces like the Skyway Plaza. The team will explore the feasibility of adapting vacant commercial spaces into attractive and functional mixed-use apartments and co-working offices for low-income entrepreneurs. Nothing is set in stone as to what will be the end results of the initiative; however, with community input and buy-in from the property owner, Brixmor, the FHC intends to use its broad expertise to bring new life and innovation to the Plaza. Should (or WHEN!) the FHC be successful, it will lead the way for other such state and national organizations to follow.
Lead by FHC Technical Advisor Mr. Ashon Nesbitt, a Saint Petersburg native, and co-Advisor Mr. Ben Torro-Spears, the FHC team put the 60+ attendees through an exercise facilitated by FHC Architect Mr. Stephen Bender where they were divided into work groups to focus on a) Retail and Business Ideas; b) Outdoor Ideas, and c) Residential Ideas. Using poster displays containing inspiring visions of what the Plaza could become, the groups compiled ideas that they had previously affixed to the displays with sticky notes. They then selected a group spokesperson and took turns going before the entire audience to present their visions. Many of the groups were united in using outdoor space for community gardens, gathering space, and play areas for smaller kids. Inside, the groups agreed on the concept of live|work (apartment) spaces, and retail opportunites for small businesses that offer locally created foods, administrative services and technology incubators.
The FHC initiative is focused specifically on the 60K sq ft space once occupied by the Sweet Bay grocery store. This space is a blank canvas that will easily lend itself to helping the FHC bring its vision to fruition. For more information on the FHC and this project, please visit www.flhousing.org. Stay tuned to the GPPCA Facebook page and our website, gppca.wildapricot.org to JOIN the association and also for community news and updates.