PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Two major companies could soon be coming to a lower-income area in Pinellas County.
Amazon and Tesla are both working on plans to move into the Lealman area and it could lead to a major investment in the once overlooked area.
Terry Downs, the owner of Pro Karting Experience in Lealman, could soon have a front row seat to watching the current Kane’s Furniture Liquidation Store at 4601 34th Street North turn into a state-of-the-art Tesla Sales, Service, Delivery and Repair Center.
“It will bring in jobs, clean up the community. It’s good for the environment and I don’t know if you’ve driven a Tesla, but wow,” he exclaimed. “I’ve been sitting here and watching downtown St. Petersburg grow, and seeing it getting closer and closer, I think this is another step in the right direction.”
It comes as Amazon breaks ground on a new 40,000 square foot distribution center nearby at 6101 45th Street North. Angela Parkhurst at The Curve Exchange Plus Size Retail Boutique is thrilled.
“It’s amazing to think they could go anywhere in Florida, anywhere in Pinellas County and they are choosing this area,” she said.
Lealman is a lower-income area and for years, county leaders have worked to attract high paying jobs and a tidal wave of economic development to the community, which is located near St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park.
Chris Moore at the Lealman Exchange says while the Tesla deal is about two weeks away from being finalized, it is exciting.
“When you have Amazon and Tesla, two of the most successful companies in the world choosing this area, in many ways the victory is Lealman’s as an area poised for great growth,” he elaborated.
Since both projects are in the Greater Lealman Community Redevelopment Area, investments by Amazon and Tesla will lead to direct improvements to enhance the Lealman area.
“While I might not walk into a Tesla Center and buy one and the people on 34th Street might not buy them, they will bring people into the community who can elevate the area even more so,” Parkhurst added.
With more people moving into Lealman as St. Petersburg rent and home prices skyrocket, community members say the investments come at an ideal time.
“That’s more people for us, more people for them. It’s happiness for all the small businesses in this area,” Parkhurst said.
“Lealman has got bright days ahead and we’re really excited about what this can mean for the community,” Moore chimed in.
Tesla is expected to sign off on the deal within two weeks.
The new Tesla center is expected to create about 50 jobs, including technicians who will use EV software.
The 102,410 square-foot facility will be a place where people can test drive the electric vehicles, buy and lease the cars and have their vehicles repaired.
Plans submitted to Pinellas County leaders do not indicate when construction will begin on the property along 34th Street North.