Trails Crossing will be a walkable haven filled with art markets, vendors and murals

Trails Crossing will be a walkable haven filled with art markets, vendors and murals

Rendering of a pedestrian walkway with multiple public art installations along the path.

Trails Crossing could be the next step in transforming St. Petersburg into a haven for pedestrians and cyclists. The first phase of the vibrant linear cultural park is comprised of four blocks of underutilized surface parking beneath I-275. This will transform these otherwise blighted spaces into highly active event spaces, shopping corridors, and public art hubs.

One major point of interest in this project already celebrated a milestone earlier in November as St. Pete officials cut the ribbon on the newest green space in the MLK Business District, the I-375 Park. This ribbon cutting coincided with the first annual MLK Business District Fall Festival.

Creating a new pedestrian corridor in St. Pete

Trails Crossing is proposed as a public-private partnership that activates a desolate area under the interstate and creates a public park with safe crossing to access the Pinellas Trail that will be designed and programmed to include walking and bicycle paths, lit art walls, childrens’ area, container buildings, beer garden, dog park, art sculptures, green amphitheater and more.

Apogee contracted Baker Barrios Architecture to create a Conceptual Plan to start the process and has interfaced with community stakeholders as well as the City to help make this a reality.

Trails Crossing will be a haven for local markets, and area artists

“Ultimately it will tie into the Historic Gas Plant site to further connect the Deuces Live and south side of St Pete,” writes John Barkett, owner of Barkett Realty and Co-founder and President of nonprofit Friends of Trails Crossing Inc. “It also provides a large public meeting space over 4 acres in an area that can be programmed with lit art walls and multipurpose shipping containers also acting as mural canvases that will be programmed for a variety of uses including pop-up art galleries and retail kiosks.”

“As it stands, some of our most successful recurring events in St Pete like Saturday Morning Market have to downsize in summer due to heat and shrink to fit in Williams Park. Localtopia is another hugely successful local event that is quickly outgrowing Williams Park,” writes Barkett. “Additionally, we have worked to remove the adjacent covering over the rail spur to the east that is now making way for the 1st ever purpose built retail fronting the Pinellas Trail.” Barkett believes this will act as a catalyst to spur more development along the Trail via either adaptive reuse or redevelopment that will give residents more safe options to navigate the City without the need for automobiles. This is the car-free future we’ve been looking for.

Trails Crossing would include walking and bike paths; a green ribbon, plaza and amphitheater; a “flex” plaza for pop-up markets; an expansive “Cross Road” plaza built with repurposed shipping containers; a children’s area, gardens and a dog park.

Connecting neighborhoods separated by the highway

“What’s impressive about Trails Crossing is the mixture of the arts, local businesses, and event space that will be a sheltered gathering place for people, without the need for a car,” writes Shaquille Lashley, a sales and leasing specialist with Barkett Realty. “Another important piece is the intentional equity put forth to integrate several bifurcated Southside neighborhoods into our Downtown districts. I believe this project is a massive step forward for the city.”

Several weeks ago plans for Trails Crossing were presented to members of St. Petersburg City Councilmembers during a Housing, Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting. The presentation was met with enthusiasm. The feedback from the presentation will be used to create a master plan.

At an October meeting, the administration recommended a 50-50 partnership on the project’s master plan, with the city and Friends of Trails Crossing each contributing $150,000.

Trails Crossing officials must next create an agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation and present again to the city council in in early 2023.

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