In the midst of increasing development, she seeks to keep St. Pete "artsy"

Posted at 10:03 AM, Aug 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-28 10:03:34-04

Another weekend...and Gina Foti is working overtime.

In a studio that's gallery, office and home, she's been in the midst of an Arts Explosion in the of St. Petersburg that's come to be known as the Warehouse Arts District, literally a line drive away from Tropicana Field -- just west of downtown.

Surrounded by maps and renderings inside, and other artists and studios just outside her walls, she's been trying to figure out -- for years -- how to tie it all together.  
"And I began on creating this 'walkability path,'" she told me. "When I first started this -- it was an idea that was hard to see, so when you created the vision, and the excitement and everything started happening, a lot of people flood into the area."

Living and working and helping create various venues in the area that are drawing more interest and investment, she's seeing this part of the city at a crossroads.

"And I was told, 'Create the vision, and the money will come.' When the money came, so did outside influences."

"Quietly, boundaries are being divided up and redrawn," she laments. "Districts are being renamed. And politics are 'taking over.'"

Those political influences have troubled her of late.  She says such shenannigans could evaporate her visions of a connective collaborative community.

"I'm an artist," she said. "And developers aren't artists.  And city isn't artist. So there's become a disconnect."

She's hoping to present some of this planners...tomorrow (Monday, August 29) they seek to draw a roadmap for this neighborhood's growth.

But as meetings -- down the line -- with city leaders and developers go forward, Gina's concerned that these ideas might just get left "on the drawing board."

"We know this area," she said emphatically, referring to her cadre of creative-minded artists who've congregated in the zone roughly bounded by the Pinellas Trail, Fifth Avenue and 22nd Street.
"We know it -- we know each other. So involve us. And specifically make sure that you include the people in this place. This is what this was intended for."