Behind the News, Dispatches from the Sunshine State

City leaders destroy Central Avenue, now complain about it (REDUX)

Over the last week, Central Avenue has a hot topic with the St. Petersburg Times’ editorial encouraging artists to take over the 600 block. And once again, they mention the efforts of City Councilmember Leslie Curran. So, once again, I must remind folks how city councilmembers, including Ms. Curran, ruined that block to begin with. To take credit for any burgeoning artist scene now is, well, infuriating.

Please check out my rant on that here.

I hate to be a Negative Nelly — I’m glad something is happening as oppose to vacancies or, gasp, condos — but I can’t help but think how this all could have been avoided if city officials had any sense of — well, let’s just leave it at “any sense.” I also take great umbrage to Councilmember Curran newest quote to the Times:

Curran says the renaissance along the 600 block is similar to what happened years ago in Ybor City when artists went into empty storefronts long before developers took an interest in the area.

“My wish is that it (Crislip) becomes a viable art center that connects to the Beach Drive art scene, the Florida Craftsman Gallery, the Dome District and the Craftsman House in the Grand Central District,” said Curran. “Whatever we can do to get those folks out in the forefront and tie them together, that will be great for the city.”

Yes, Curran, and we all now how Ybor turned out …

3 thoughts on “City leaders destroy Central Avenue, now complain about it (REDUX)”

  1. Peter says:

    Nice work Alex, wish you’d post more. I know you’ve been busy, but your voice on issue like this is needed.

  2. Tom says:

    Thanks for telling this story Alex.
    This is yet another example of biased coverage of city government and elections. The failures of city government to take steps to preserve this historic arcade were ignored in election coverage. Stories giving incumbent council members credit for cleaning it it up completely misrepresented their role in allowing the mess to happen in the first place. The first part of the story was just forgotten. Stating “The closed storefronts on the north side of the block quickly became a gathering place for homeless people…” simply skips the process of evicting the small businesses to create the empty space. It just “became” a problem.

    This block had a thriving collection of antique shops that did resemble the early renaissance of Ybor City in the way small business owners fixed up run down storefronts with no help from the city and despite city policies that encouraged decline and demolition. They also got that wrong.

    One of the stories was accompanied by a photo of the building covered with election posters. A not very subtle free campaign ad for Curran.

    Its a shame that the Times can’t tell the whole story because in the end we do have a nice outcome and if they could admit mistakes were made we could learn a lot. Redevelopment often creates vacant land and buildings that blight the community the project is intended to save. It doesn’t have to be that way. An honest look at this process could yield better results.

    The Times did not tell us how long this building will remain when the owners once again want to demolish.

    1. Alex Pickett says:

      Wow, Tom. I couldn’t have said it better. You make such an excellent point at the end — yes, this is a great project now, but what happens when the next condo boom occurs? Those artists could be evicted quicker then you can say “campaign contribution.”

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