St. Pete Beach Addresses Historic Preservation Amidst Redevelopment

In a recent meeting of the St. Pete Beach Historic Preservation Board, members deliberated on the future of historic preservation and development within the city, with a particular focus on the 8th Avenue Community Redevelopment District. The board examined various aspects of design guidelines and building height regulations. The gathering saw the approval of a local historic designation for a property on Casablanca Avenue, along with a certificate of appropriateness and a FEMA variance for renovation plans. Moreover, the meeting addressed the allocation of a $50,000 survey grant for the Don CeSar neighborhood and Bell Vista and discussed the restoration of service in the city’s alleyway system.

The most pressing topic was the dialogue revolving around the architectural and design standards for the 8th Avenue district. Members scrutinized the inclusion of canopies, awnings, and arcades in the architectural guidelines, debating whether to mandate certain structural elements like arcades. The board also tackled the scope of their authority in approving alternative designs and the enforcement of design guidelines.

Building height and base flood elevation (BFE) were issues, with varying opinions on whether flood proofing for commercial buildings should be obligatory. The interpretation of height regulations, important to preserving the district’s historic skyline, led to a debate on how to maintain the area’s appearance and prevent large-scale redevelopment. Additionally, the legal defensibility of the proposed regulations was discussed, along with the need for caveats or exceptions, especially when considering new construction versus remodeling existing structures.

Another topic of significance was the regulation of rooftop activities and the mass and scale of structures on 8th Avenue. Aerial photos were examined to assess the impact of building height in the area. The board contended with whether to ban rooftop activities outright or to enforce conditional use requirements. The potential revision of existing regulations to accommodate other types of rooftop activities, such as lounges or assembly decks, was also on the table.

The board delved into the discussion on merging two zoning districts, raising concerns about boundary consistency and the implications of combining the CRDE with the overlay. The debate unveiled varying interpretations of the overlay’s purpose and intent, highlighting the legal complexities of merging the districts. The potential elimination of the choice between overlay or underlying zone for residential buildings was debated, considering the impact on future construction options.

The local historic designation of the property on Casablanca Avenue was addressed without apparent disagreement. The property, exemplifying St. Pete Beach’s cultural history with its distinctive architectural characteristics, was unanimously approved for the designation. The conversation proceeded to the property’s certificate of appropriateness and a FEMA variance request, spurred by a flooding event. The board scrutinized the proposed renovations, which aimed at enhancing the property’s resilience to future flooding. The staff recommended approval of the renovations, emphasizing the preservation of the historic character.

The homeowner of the property on Casablanca Avenue outlined plans to protect the house from potential storm damage, presenting robust material and technique choices, such as elevating cabinetry and the use of ceramic tiles. The board approved the certificate of appropriateness and the FEMA variance for the property.

The board also celebrated the allocation of a $50,000 grant for survey work in the Don CeSar neighborhood and Bell Vista, with Cardno approved as the survey vendor. The timeline for the survey completion was discussed, as was the potential use of volunteers. Additionally, the Island Festival, organized by the Gulf Beaches Museum, was mentioned, with board encouragement for community attendance and support.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Adrian Petrila
Historic Preservation Commission Officials:
Tia Hockensmith, Sean Hurley, William Loughery, Danielle Dashiell, Holly Young, Brandon Berry (Senior Planner)

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