With 20 million residents, Florida is currently the third most populous state in the nation behind California and Texas. Pinellas County’s 2017 population was nearly 960,000, and the county is projected to hit over one million residents by 2022. At a land area of 280 square miles, Pinellas County is the most densely populated county in the state. This projected population growth points to the need for greater services, allocation of scarce natural resources, and the need for infrastructure improvements at both the state and local levels.
Pinellas County is at the center of a robust economic market as part of the larger Tampa Bay region. Beyond its famous tourism industry, the economy is well diversified with high-tech and service-sector based employment along with traditional manufacturing jobs that support a more resilient economic base. A major challenge confronting sustained economic growth is ensuring the county has enough adequately trained workers to meet area business and industry demands.
The Gateway/Mid-County Planning area is 30-square miles and is centrally located within Pinellas County and the Tampa Bay region. Far from the white sand beaches and tourism related industries that Pinellas County is known for, the Gateway supports a wide range of job sectors including manufacturers in aviation/aerospace, defense/national security, medical technologies, business and financial services, and information technology. With many employers, including multiple Fortune 500 Companies, the area has more than 114,000 jobs. Yet with all its locational advantages, the Gateway suffers from disconnected, car-centric development patterns that lack identity and make connections difficult.
Land Use, Zoning & Regulations
The clustering of office or business parks along the northern and eastern sides of Gateway accounts for about 6% of the total land uses in the area. Industrial land uses are located predominantly between Ulmerton Road and Bryan Dairy Road, accounting for about 13% of the total land uses in the area. Residential areas (about 32%) are distributed throughout the area. Clusters of multi-family residential uses are concentrated in the eastern part of the study area within St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park. Single family residential neighborhoods are concentrated in the south and southeast areas of the study area in Pinellas Park. Commercial / retail is located throughout the study area and along major streets. Ulmerton Road and Park Boulevard are major commercial east/west corridors, and 66th Street, U.S. 19 and 4th Street are major north/south commercial corridors within the study area.
Property Ownership & Parcels
The 30-square mile Gateway area is comprised of over 40,000 individual parcels. About two percent of all parcels in the area are publicly owned, making up about three percent of the land total land area. This includes several large public properties like the Pinellas County Jail, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, Pinellas County Solid Waste Facility, the Gateway Preserve, and the Weedon Island Preserve. Given the small amount of available developable land in the Gateway, these publicly owned parcels will play a crucial role in the redevelopment of the area.
Open Space Network
While the Gateway is positioned along the coast, much of the coastline is not visible or accessible. The Weedon Island Preserve, Gateway Preserve, and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport act as buffers between the inland communities and the coast, allowing little to no access to the water. The current trail system within the Gateway is largely fragmented and does not connect to existing trails. Existing trails include the Duke Energy Trail, canoe trails, and the Pinellas Trail which is located just west of the study area. Plans are in place to extend the Duke Energy Trail south eventually connecting with Gandy Boulevard. Additional studies have provided the potential locations for community trails running throughout the study area to connect to the existing trails and bike network. In addition to multi-modal trails, the study area includes several equestrian trails in Pinellas Park near the Helen S. Howarth Community Park.
Built Environment & Character
The Gateway is characterized by large, sprawling, low-density development dotted with small activity centers along or near key roadways. There are few undeveloped parcels remaining in the area. Much of the existing development is auto-oriented, with priority given to truck and car access.
There are a range of community facilities that serve both the employment and residential based uses in the Gateway area. Housing accounts for about one-third of the Gateway area, and there are a number of schools serving these neighborhoods, particularly located in the southwest (Pinellas Park) and north (Largo). Schools include both public and private elementary, middle, and Pinellas Park High School and Bayside High School. There are also several preschool and child-care facilities located in the Gateway area. In addition, there are several higher education providers: Pinellas County Technical College (Clearwater Campus) and St. Petersburg College are located in the High Point neighborhood, and the SPC Health Education Center is in Pinellas Park.