A beautiful new park has taken shape just outside the Historic Uptown neighborhood and the MLK Business District, and its arrival will help connect the incredible stretch of businesses (from Uptown Eats and Neat Neat Neat, to Sunstate Yoga and Gypsy Souls Coffee) to the thriving EDGE District of St. Petersburg. The project, which was announced in the spring of 2021, is now open at the corner of 5th Avenue North and Dr. MLK Jr Street North.
The initiative to build this park is led by John Barkett of Barkett Realty alongside City Council Vice-Chair Gina Driscoll, Transportation Director Evan Morey, Parks and Recreation Supervisor Mike Jeffries, and other city officials.
Connecting businesses in the Sunshine City
As one of the active business owners and a board member of the M.L.K. Business District, John Barkett, MAI, owner of Barkett Realty, has worked closely with public officials, business owners, and community organizations to curate a district that meets the needs of St. Pete’s residents—and continues to work to evolve the area.
The I-375 Park will serve as the first of many upcoming park projects that aim to connect St. Pete’s unique business and neighborhood districts, and improve the city’s walkability and year-round outdoor event potential by eliminating the bifurcation created when the interstate system was developed.
“The ask for this park came directly from the public, and the City is happy to listen and make the most of their existing long-term land leases with Florida DOT in a way that strengthens the city,” said John Barkett, “We live in a very rare community where voices are heard and you can truly make lasting change that can positively impact your local community for generations to come. That’s just one of the reasons why I love living and working in St. Petersburg.”
New shaded gathering spaces in St. Pete
The plan for the park includes shaded gathering spaces, public parking, event space, public mural art, and dog-friendly green space. Most importantly, it will create a walkable thoroughfare connecting Downtown and Historic Uptown, becoming one of the northernmost points for St. Pete’s bike share and new scooter pilot program. The design will come to fruition after securing half a million dollars of funding from sources outside of the city’s budget.
“St. Pete is unique, in that it’s a small town-feel with world-class amenities and big goals. Creating park spaces and additional walkability connects our city’s districts and helps our local business thrive,” said Council Member Gina Driscoll, “This space will provide opportunities for shaded outdoor gathering and events—something we truly need in the summer months. If we’re able to create more multimodal spaces like this in key locations, it only helps to connect the unique districts in and around Downtown and strengthen our community for residents, visitors, and local businesses alike.”
Public art planned for the park
In addition to the outdoor initiative, there will be a subsequent public art component to the project. A blank canvas will be available in the form of several columns and flat panels underneath I-375 as well as along the on-ramp, providing space for local St. Petersburg artists to showcase their work, bringing new life to the MLK district, while lighting up the space at night and making it more secure and pedestrian friendly.
Public Art is a vital component of the Sunshine City. St. Pete’s emergence as a destination to not only visit, but to set roots in begins with our large.scale murals. The public art once again gives a local artist the opportunity to share their talents with longtime and future residents, while adding something special to the city.