The Gateway area is approximately 30 square miles and includes the St. Pete Clearwater International Airport and is a primary economic engine of Pinellas County and the Tampa Bay region. Determining the boundaries of the area will be included as part of this master plan effort, but they are generally considered to be Belleair Road on the north, Starkey Road on the west, 70th Avenue North on the south, and Tampa Bay on the east. The Gateway area encompasses four local governments and a high concentration of higher wage employers. It is close to the interstate system and within a short drive of downtown St. Petersburg and Tampa, yet it suffers from the challenges of a disparate, disconnected and disinvested automobile- centric development pattern. Most of the area is designated in the Countywide Land Use Plan as Target Employment and Activity Center, which encourages higher densities/intensities and mixed use development.
Major investments have been made in the Gateway area on highway improvements. But a result of its auto-oriented development pattern is that accessibility for transit and non-motorized travel is limited. Pinellas County’s transit planning efforts have long focused on serving the Gateway as a key regional employment center. It is a critical hub and connecting point for premium transit service linking downtown St. Petersburg, Westshore and downtown Tampa in Hillsborough County, the beaches and areas in northern Pinellas County.
From a land use perspective, there is a balance needed between protecting existing industrial and target employment uses and providing housing options that enable people to live closer to their destinations. A well thought-out plan is needed to reduce the demand for single-occupant vehicle travel on the area’s road network while fostering more efficient land use patterns than enhance its economic viability.
To address these challenges, Forward Pinellas will be undertaking an effort to develop a Master Plan for this area. This will be a two-year work effort, focused on building support for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to improving multimodal connectivity in the area. In addition to defining the boundaries, a key task of the master plan effort will be to identify potential sub-districts or focal points of the Gateway area, and begin setting context for how it may evolve and grow.
A steering committee comprised of local governments, partner agencies and major employers is being formed to develop a coordinated work plan for the Gateway area.The master plan will guide the identification of transportation project priorities and public infrastructure necessary to sustain future development and economic growth of the Gateway area.