St. Pete to jumpstart major south side overhaul

Posted at 4:00 PM, Jan 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-27 17:19:48-05

The city of St. Petersburg is in the process of launching a major effort to redevelop the city's south side. They've pin-pointed 10 programs that will each receive a portion of a $500,000 fund.

This is all part of a long term plan to invest in this community. The city is working to rehab homes and businesses in the area, as well as create job opportunities. All of this comes in an area that has been long underserved.

LumaStream, a St. Pete based LED tech company, has created a workforce development program. The program's aim is to get people in that south St. Pete community back to work.

"It's been wonderful, and it changes the whole direction of people's lives," said LumaStream CEO Eric Higgs.

With every minute spent training at the company, trainee Steven Gregg is working to build a brighter future for himself.

"When you walk on a job, you already have the knowledge to do the work," Gregg told ABC Action News.

Gregg is one of a number of trainees learning the basics. The initiative at LumaStream is just one of those highlighted in the city's south St. Pete Community redevelopment plan. Millions of dollars will eventually be pumped into the poorest neighborhoods. Funds will be used to jumpstart infrastructure improvements for housing and businesses, and also to develop job training programs.

"The good thing is that as you increase the value of a property, it also increases the value of the surrounding properties, which increases tax revenue, which feeds back into it," said St. Pete city councilman Karl Nurse. "So it becomes a virtuous circle of increasing values and increasing revenues to speed up the redevelopment of the area."

Gregg believes the initiative will be a major step in changing the city's south side. He looks at himself as a perfect example.

"I've learned a lot, and it's helped me to stabilize myself," Gregg told ABC Action News. "I'm working."

City administrators stress that this is a long term plan. They are looking at a 30-year plan that will eventually put nearly $70 million in funding into the south side of the city.

Areas of interest that the city will target with this funding include:

  • Affordable Multifamily Housing Development Program
  • Residential Property Improvement Grant
  • Commercial Site Improvement Grant
  • Commercial Building Interior and Tenant Improvement Grant
  • Neighborhood Commercial Corridor Public Private Partnership Fund
  • CRA Grant Match Program
  • CRA Property Acquisition and Preparation Program
  • Redevelopment Loan Program
  • Paint Your Heart Out Program
  • Workforce Readiness and Development Program