ST. PETERSBURG BEACH, Fla. — It was recently named the best beach in the USA, and yet, St. Pete Beach’s growth has been stunted for years. For seven years, St. Pete Beach has had a moratorium on new construction that would add capacity to the island because the sewage and wastewater system couldn’t handle the increased capacity.
Now, work is underway to overhaul the sewage system, and St. Pete Beach Mayor Al Johnson said 10-12 hotels have expressed desires to build or expand in the beach community.
Tuesday, October 12, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the state is contributing $2 million to help complete the work on the sewer system.
Work on the sewer system should wrap up in January, allowing hotels to finally expand. Business leaders said it’s crucial timing as tourism bounces back from the toughest year imaginable.
“We’re coming from the ground up essentially just from a year ago so anything that adds to what we already have will allow us to expand our business, pay our employees more and for them to make more money so it all just goes full circle,” explained JT Corrales, the Director of Business Development for Crabby Bill’s St. Pete Beach.
Greg Nicholas only wishes the upgrades could have been completed sooner. His family sold the Sirata Beach Resort in 2017 after 55 years, and they were never able to see a planned $100 million expansion through.
“In fact that was one of our deepest regrets is we couldn’t complete what we always envisioned that the Sirata could be,” he explained. “The Sirata could have been the premier hotel on St. Petersburg Beach and that is always in the back of my mind.”
Nicholas said he is glad to see the work in motion now.
“There’s a business community that has been waiting very patiently for many years to do the improvements they need to do to keep up,” he added.
The $2 million comes from the Florida Job Growth Grant Funds. The sewer overhaul project is expected to create 1,316 new, permanent jobs and generate nearly $13 million annually for the local economy, according to Governor DeSantis’ office.
The announcement at Crabby Bill’s in St. Pete Beach Tuesday is part of a week-long series of events in which the Governor is highlighting projects to bolster Florida’s economy.
The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund is an economic development program designed to promote public infrastructure and workforce training across the state.
In 2020-21, $74 million in awards are available for projects that focus on rapidly developing a highly-skilled workforce and on infrastructure initiatives that attract businesses, create jobs, and promote economic growth.