Downtown Saint Petersburg, FL

“Downtown was the first part of Saint Petersburg that began to develop starting in the early 20th century. Shippingopened up with the dragging of the channel nearby and development began to grow exponentially Downtown. As St. Petersburg began as a tourist destination even from its early days, office has never had a major foothold here. Currently there are only about 10-20K office jobs Dwtn. Fortunately Dwtn has grown up to be a center of arts & cultural, a quality food & beverage scene, has many great waterfront parks, plenty of retails, and a good concentration of housing making it an attractive urban neighborhood. City leaders also had the vision to preserve much the City’s historic architecture (unlike Dwtn Tampa Bay) maintaining a wonderful concentration of historic buildings around Central Avenue. The urban form of the infill buildings is also pretty good.

Unfortunately due to a lack of walkable districts in St. Petersburg overall, housing is very expensive here. Other areas for improvement dwtn include more walkable schools, lack of some major dwtn amenities (i.e. convention center & dwtn library), missing transit line to the airport, and a good # of surface parking lots remaining on the western and southern edges of Dwtn. But with an on-going construction boom I anticipate Downtown St. Pete will get better and better and hopefully more office jobs will move here too.”

Click here to view my Downtown St. Petersburg Album on Flickr


“* Excellent ADA and sidewalk infrastructure.

  • Solid density Dwtn.
  • Public transit is so in the Dwtn and surrounding neighborhoods but decent across St. Peterburg city limits and even decent to the northern suburbs.
  • Great street grid, good connectivity, and not too many wide 1-way streets.
  • Great bike lane system in the region and several dedicated bike lanes with Dwtn. Only Dwtn and a handful of inner city neighborhoods have dedicated bike stations.
  • Safety is generally very safe but some dead spots.
  • Much of Dwtn’s historic fabric remains and looks great. This is concentrated along Central Ave.
  • Modern in-fill is generally pretty good besides some of the design tackiness and auto centric bldgs on the edges of Dwtn.
  • Great tree canopy for a Dwtn.
  • Solid Dwtn vibrancy thanks to Dwtn’s decent population base.
  • Decent # of college students attending school within or near dwtn. USF St. Petersburg is just south of dwtn and enrolls 3,500 students. There is also a Dwtn Campus for St. Petersburg College.
  • Some very nice park spaces, especially along the waterfront. The crown jewel being the 26 acre St. Petersburg Pier, filled with many different recreational amenities.
  • Good cultural amenities including many great restaurants, bars, cafes, several breweries, tons of art galleries, both an independent theater & cineplex, and a handful of theaters (performing arts and live music)
  • Culturally a decent # of museum options (i.e. Fine Arts, History, Dali Museum, Holocaust, Chihuly, and lots of other smaller museums). Other Dwtn attractions include a soccer Stadium and the Devil Rays Stadium is just outside of Dwtn, a historic post office, and a decent # of gov’t bldgs.
  • Good retail amenities with 2 publixs, a couple drug stores, lots of brand name clothing stores, good # of boutiques, plenty of banks, lots of gift shops, a nice bookstore, plenty of dessert shops and gyms, a couple home good stores, plenty of churches, and two major hospitals on the edges.


“* Lots of for-sale housing options but generally expensive. 1-bed condo sell anywhere btwn 100-1M, 2-beds mostly 500K-1.5M but some cheaper dated options selling btwn 200K-500K, older 3-beds sell btwn 550K-850K, newer 3 beds sell anywhere btwn 1-3M. Lots of 3 bed options esp. for a dwtn. Only a handful of 4 & 5 beds.

  • Decent # of rentals but also rather pricey. 1-beds lease in the 2Ks, 2-beds rent in the 2Ks & 3Ks, only a handful of 3-beds leasing for a bit more. A handful of affordable senior bldgs.
  • Only a handful of small schools Dwtn. A couple larger ones in surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Some nice skyline angles but generally Dwtn is filled bland residential medium sized towers and limited office towers. Taller bldgs are also spread apart.
  • Urban form generally good but a sizable # of surface parking lots remain in the southern and western edges of Dwtn.
  • Dwtn’s traditional civic plaza, Williams Park is disappointing. Pretty well designed but overrun by homeless and limited events. The St. Pete Pier is taking over as the Civic heart of Dwtn with lots of events and festivals but doesn’t have great central location.
  • No Convention Center Dwtn, no major dwtn library (although there is a local branch).
  • Dwtn is not a great employment hub. Prob the lowest amount of any major city. Total jobs dwtn is somewhere btwn 10-20K. Job are concentrated in more suburban areas like the Gateway St. Petersburg by the airport.”

Downtown Tampa Bay

In this Downtown evaluation I included the traditional (Dwtn area north of I-618 ) and the sub districts Water Street and Channel Island between I-618 and the Ybor Chanel.

Given that Tampa Bay reached only 50K by 1920 and 100K by 1930 it’s not surprising that there are only a handful of historic mid-rise buildings. What is surprisingly is how little of Downtown’s pre-WII fabric remains. Post WWII Downtown Tampa Bay went all in with the Office Tower/Autocentric craze. Fortunately since the early 2000s civic leaders have focused on creating better quality park space and decent mixed-use housing and neighborhoods. This first began with a flurry of new construction in the Channel Island subdistrict and the Sparkman Wharf completed in 2018. More recently the Water Street district was revealed and is on course to finish the first phase by 2022. The new district is across 56 acres and includes 3,500 residential units, tons of office space and lots of new retail amenities. Revitalization efforts in the Downtown core have been slow and mainly one-off multi-family and mixed used developments. This has helped but the core of Dwtn still feels sleepy and bland. Lots of development activity occurring just north of Downtown in the South Nebraska neighborhood with the Encore! and GAs Worx Developments.

Once the above mentioned projects are completed, Dwtn Tampa will be a much more vibrant and 24 hour place filling in many of its dead spaces. But there is still much work to do in the core of Dwtn. Other areas of improvement needed for Dwtn include better retail amenities, more walkable schools, a more interesting skyline, direct transit connection to the airport, and need for more jobs. “

Click here to view my Downtown Tampa Album on Flickr. Click here for my Channel District Album. Here for Water Street.


“* Overall very good ADA infrastructure especially in the traditional core of Dwtn.

  • Great bike lane system in the region and several dedicated bike lanes with Dwtn. Only Dwtn and a handful of inner city neighborhoods have dedicated bike stations.
  • Excellent economic diversity and solid racial diversity Dwtn.
  • Decent amount of affordable housing dwtn, especially along the north edge.
  • Excellent supply of for sale but on the expensive side. 1-bed condos sell between 250K- 550K, 2-beds 350-650K. Good amount of 3-bed supply but very expensive some sell around 600K but most around 1 M.
  • Good array of parks and recreational amenities including Lykes Gaslight Park, Courthouse Square, Fort Brook Park, Julian Riverfront Park, and Curtis Hixon Waterfront park- a solid and active civic plaza. Riverwalk trails outline most of Dwtn.
  • Dwtn has had a special improvement district in place since 94′
    *Much of the modern architecture from the 60s-90s is quite bland but the newer infill concentrated in the Channel Island and Water Street sub-district is pretty high quality.
  • Solid college enrollment Dwtn with just sky of 9K students at the University of Tampa (just across the River from Dwtn), 2K students at USF Health College, a couple other small satellite colleges, and several thousand students attending Hillsborough College & Brewster Technical College a couple miles from Dwtn.
  • Culturally a good # of restaurants, bars, and cafes, a decent # of theaters and a large historic movie house, lots of museums (i.e. Ship Museum, Aquarium, History Center, Art & Children’s Museum, and a couple local museums).
  • Dwtn also hosts a decent central library & post office, plenty of gov’t bldgs, a major convention center, but only the Hockey Area for Pro teams.
  • Retail amenities include 2 publics, several drug stores, tons of banks, some boutiques and creative stores, plenty of salons & barber shops, tons of dessert joints, some churches, and the Tampa General Hospital is nearby


“* Ok transit within Tampa Bay City limits. Very good dwtn and in a couple inner city district and fair transit connections throughout. Very limited transit options to surrounding suburbs and no transit access to the airport.

  • Only a handful of elementary schools located within dwtn but several quasi-walkable schools in adjacent districts.
  • Good supply but rental housing on the expensive side. Studios lease in the mid-high $1,000s, 1-beds ~ 2K, 2-beds in the 2 & 3Ks, and some 3-beds leasing btwn 3-5K.
  • Generally a safe dwtn but plenty of dead spots that make it feel unsafe.
  • The Skyline is pretty bland but a good concentration of verticality with 7 bldgs above 400 ft. Only a handful of mid-sized historic towers. The new high-rises in the Water Street sub-district is more interesting and will help with the skyline in the future.
  • Some nice historic arch dwtn but most of it has been torn down. Similar vibe to dwtn Houston here.
  • Vibrancy is not great, especially in the core of Dwtn but some pockets of vibrancy especially in Sparkman Wharf.
  • Culturally dwtn has a limited # of art galleries, live music venues, and some night clubs.
  • 70K jobs in dwtn Tampa (decent but not amazing for its metro’s size) Dwtn St. Pete prob reduces this jobs #. Office vacancy around 12%. Not bad.
  • No department stores.
  • Lots of dead spots and surface parking lots especially in the traditional core of Dwtn. With the massive Water Street development the urban fabric of the southern end of Dwtn will greatly improve. Even when there are bldgs with decent form, there is a lack of activity in many bldgs due to the office tower dominance. “

The Edge District- A great main street district just west of Downtown St. Petersburg

 I included everything west of MLK Blvd  and within the inner belt for this evaluation. The Edge district is concentrated around Central Avenue, Tampa Bay’s premiere main street that runs to Downtown and further west from the Edge District. The corridor has a great concentration of food & beverage businesses, boutiques and creative stores, murals, and a collection of mid-century modern furniture. The Edge district is also walkable to many parts of Dwtn and has quality bike and transit connections.

Central Avenue is a bit of an urban island however. Urban form in the rest of the neighborhood used in this evaluation are not great. South of Central is the MLB stadium where the Tampa Devil Rays play. The stadium is surrounding by a sea of parking. North of Central is a mix of historic residential and industrial blight. Some new apartment bldgs are starting to sprout up in the  neighborhood giving me hope that the areas north of Central Avenue will fill in and create a more seamless urban district.

Because of  a lack of housing in the district and quality urban neighborhoods in general in St. Petersburg, housing is quite expensive in the Edge District. Dedicated park space is also very limited, although residents have walkable access to several nice parks in adjacent neighborhoods. 

Click here to view my Edge District Album on Flickr


* Great access to dwtn and decent transit access.
* Several bike lanes run thru the district along with good bike station coverage.
* Very diverse incomes but really just those who are professionals and those under the poverty line.
* Great racial diversity.
* Some affordable rentals in the Edge District Area
* Solid cultural amenities including many restaurants, bars, and cafes, a local magic theater, a couple live music venues, a MLB stadium, and good access to all the cultural amenities dwtn.
* Good retail amenities with a Public’s Supermarket, a drug store, lots of boutiques, home goods stores, several antique stores, lots of dessert shops, and a couple of gyms. 


* Density is pretty low.
* Good ADA infrastructure along Central Ave, 1st Ave, and Pinellas Trail but hit or miss outside of this.
* Poor generational diversity as few families live here.
* Really no schools within the Edge district but a couple okay schools located in adjacent districts.
* For sale hsg is generally pretty expensive but some affordable 1-bed condos selling btwn 150K-400K, 2-beds btwn 250K-550K, 3-beds btwn 300K-600K,
* Rentals are also pricy with studios leasing in the high 1Ks, 1-beds in the low-mid 2Ks, 2 beds in the high 2KS and 3Ks, and 3-beds are limited but expensive.
* Dedicated park spaces is very limited within the Edge District boundaries but still walkable access to walks in adjacent neighborhoods (Mirror Lake and Campbell Park
* General a safe neighborhood but lots of dead spaces and some blight.
* Great vibrancy along Central Avenue but pretty dead outside of here.
* No public library or post office, but located in nearby Dwtn. Also limited banks.
* Good urban form and Streetscaping along Central Ave and decent along 1st Ave and Pinellas Trail but pretty terrible outside of these streets. Lots of surface parking around Tropicana Stadium and lots of vacant lots and auto centric areas in the neighborhood.

Ybor City- the reason behind Tampa Bay’s historic Cigar City nickname

Ybor City was founded in the 1880s by Vicente Martinez-Ybor and other cigar manufacturers. They helped propel Tampa Bay from a struggling village to a bustling city in about 20 years and giving it the nickname “Cigar City”. Ybor City was populated by thousands of immigrant workers, mainly from Cuba, Spain, and Italy. For the next 50 years, workers in Ybor City’s cigar factories rolled hundreds of millions of cigars annually. Ybor City grew and flourished from the 1890s until the Great Depression, when a drop in demand and mechanization greatly reduced employment opportunities. This process accelerated after World War II, and a steady exodus of residents and businesses continued until large areas of this formerly vibrant neighborhood were virtually abandoned by the late 1970s.

Fortunately the neighborhood did not sit vacant too long as artist began moving into the old cigar factories in the 80s. By the 90s and early 2000s renovations efforts were well underway and Ybor City became a major cultural and late night destination for Tampa Bay. New offices and residences have also has been built in the last 15 years diversifying the neighborhood and starting to fill in the many holes left by its de-industrialization. At its Height, Ybor City reached at least 10K. It bottomed out with around 1,000 residents and now has just over 2,000.

There is certainly much room for in-fill and new residents and businesses as much of the neighborhood (outside the 7th and 8th Avenue) core is vacant or underutilized land.  Given that 1-bedroom rentals lease in the high $1,000s, there is certainly demand for more housing here. The neighborhood also needs better sidewalks and ADA infrastructure, more park and recreational space, better tree canopy, and better basic neighborhood retail amenities like a supermarket and drug store. In addition to a thriving cultural scene Ybor City excels at great access to dwtn, good public transit service, excellent racial and economic diversity, vibrancy, and gorgeous historic architecture. 

Click here to view my Ybor City album on Flickr


* Great access to downtown and excellent public transit access.
* Good bike infrastructure access with a couple bike lanes and several dedicated bike share stations.
* Excellent racial and economic diversity.
* Decent for sale options. 1-bed condos sell 200ks & 300ks, 2-beds anywhere btwn 200Ks-500Ks, 3 & 4s beds are similar but some SF options selling in the 500KS & 600Ks.
* Excellent historic and modern architecture along the 7th & 8th Street core. Hit or miss outside the core.
* Great massing and streetscape along 7th & 8th but a mixed-bag outside this area. Some pretty autocentric and industrial areas on the edges.
* Good pedestrian activity especially in the touristy core of the district, pretty dead outside this area.
* Excellent cultural activities including many restaurants, bars and cafes, art galleries, lots of music venues, theaters, and night clubs, several breweries, a cineplex, and plenty of local museums.
* Good but not great retail amenities including : a Public Library and Post Office, lots of boutiques and vintage stores, cigars shops, some antique shops, several desserts spots, banks, and a couple of gyms. Also a good array of churches.


* Very poor Density.
* ADA compliant curbs are infrequent at intersection although curbs and sidewalks are certainly the norm.
* Poor generational diversity with only about 15%-20% family households.
* Several walkable grade schools but of mixed-ratings.
* Rental housing is rather expensive and limited. 1-beds lease in the mid-high $1,000s, 2 & 3 beds generally in the 2Ks. Not much dedicated affordable hsg here.
* Ybor City has a perceptions and history of crime but relatively safe in the present day. Some crime related to its night life activities and sketchy areas off the main 7th & 8th St. drags.
* Nice central park (Centennial Park) and Centro Ybor plaza but not much else with parks and recreational amenities.
* Tree canopy is pretty limited.
* Some missing retail amenities include no supermarket, drug store, 

Hyde Park- Tampa Bay’s best urban district

The Hyde Park neighborhood was established in the 1880s when railroad financier Henry B. Plant built the first bridge across the Hillsborough River at what is now Kennedy Boulevard. Growth occurred rapidly and a street car line was put in on Swann Ave and Rome Avenues.  The heart of the Hyde Park Neighborhood (aka Hyde Park Village) grew at the intersection of Swann and South Dakota Ave. Hyde Park Village is now a well defined  business node with many restaurants, bars, cafes and high-end boutiques. The rest of Hyde Park’s business districts are really a mix of urban and auto centric streets. Howard Ave has some decent urban stretches but Kennedy Blvd is overwhelmingly autocentric with the exception of the node adjacent to Tampa University.

The rest of Hyde Park is filled with attractive housing with a good mix of  historic homes from the 1910s-1940 and generally thoughtful infill residential. But housing is very expensive and there is not enough rental housing here. Other Hyde Park urban strengths include close proximity to dwtn, decent public transit, safety, quality schools, very good retail and cultural amenities, and a thick tree canopy. Hyde Park could be a great urban community if it filled it its autocentric blocks with dense mixed-use housing and added better park spaces and amenities.

Click here to view my Hyde Park Album on Flickr


* Great access to Dwtn being literally on its western border. Decent public transit but a bit sub-par for an inner city neighborhood.
* Great bike infrastructure especially with the many dedicated bike paths.
* Solid racial diversity
* Not walkable high schools but very good array of well rated public and private elementary and middle schools.
* Very safe community.
* Great tree canopy.
* As one of the few quality urban districts in Tampa Bay, there is great buzz here.
* When the infill is not auto centric it is pretty high quality.
* Great array of historic homes from the 1910s-1940s.
* Culturally a great array of restaurants, bars, and cafes, several performing arts and community theaters, several art galleries, an upscale movie theater, and a couple museums in adjacent Tampa University and many cultural assets in nearby Dwtn.
* Good retail assets as well including 3 supermarkets, several drug stores, great concentration of boutiques & home good stores around Swann and Hyde Park Village, plenty of dessert stores and gyms, and Tampa General is just across the channel. Lots of retail stores are autocentric however.


* 50-50 with ADA Compliance curb cuts. Sidewalks are consistant however.
* So  economic and generational diversity.
*For Sale housing is pretty expensive but a good amount of condos selling btwn 200K-450K. 2-beds sell anywhere from 250K-1 M depending on size and conditions. 3-beds sell anywhere btwn 400K-1.5 M. 4 & 5 Beds sell btwn 700K and 3 M.
* Rentals are also expensive and a bit limited. Studios lease around 2K, 1 beds in the 2,000s, 2-beds 2-4K, 3 beds in the 4,000s.
* Does not appear to be much affordable rentals here.
* Parks a bit limited but include a nice bayfront trail, a small waterfront park, a small pocket park, and some ballfields.
* Real mixed back with urban biz districts. When the urban form is good the streetscaping is also very good.
* No post office or public library.