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Historic Block in Downtown St. Petersburg May Not Survive

Failing to receive protection from the St. Petersburg, Florida city council, a historic downtown block faces an uncertain future.
November 15, 2016, 8am PST | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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Drew Coffman

Downtown St. Pete's First Block, comprising 15 historic, low-rise structures in the heart of downtown, has failed to gain protection from potential redevelopment after the city council failed to support a bid to preserve the block. As Linda Saul-Sena of Creative Loafing writes, First Block is a magnet for "energy, activity and authenticity" with a number of bars and restaurants and a music venue anchoring the block. However, after a surprising 4-4 vote by the City Council, which leaves the block unprotected, the Mayor and preservationists are worried for the block's future. A report prepared by staff for the City Council in 2014 identified First Block as an ideal candidate for preservation.

The official city report states, ”The existing building array provides a highly distinctive experience set apart from all other blocks in the urban core. The fully extant row of buildings along Central Avenue represents an existing stock with a large percentage of primary inner constructed skeletons dating no later than 1913.

“Certain visual aspects of the block, as well as its compactness amid surrounding redevelopments encourages feelings of historic quaintness, messy vibrancy, and a certain beauty of age that deliver a strong sense of place. The attraction to the core of mostly brick, low-scaled buildings is delivered in part by how the buildings relate to the visitor in a human scale.”

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Published on Tuesday, November 1, 2016 in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay
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