Walk through Snell Island, the Old Northeast or other areas near downtown St. Petersburg, and it’s hard to disregard the quantity of residential building and construction, there is a lot of it.
In years past, St. Petersburg has witnessed a significant increase in the license varieties offered for new, single-family houses– 191 in 2015 alone. That’s almost 7 times as numerous as in 2009 throughout the depths of the economic crisis. The majority of those new houses are colossal compared with the ones they replace and this is triggering a reaction from residents; who are frequently outspoken in their views, and city authorities, who are considering modifications to assist the leviathans who fit in much better.
Snell Island resident Joyce Otazo, for one, likes the two shotgun-style McMansions that were squeezed onto a surrounding lot where a small duplex once stood. An additional two of the thin houses are expected to be built on the same block; with a view of the golf course and will be valued at one million dollars. However, at a recent meeting of the Snell Island Residential and Commercial Property Owners Association, several residents raised issues about the leviathans altering the look of their neighbourhood.
A few blocks have totally altered in the previous three years, there is almost one huge new home on every block on Snell Isle
Douglas Ellingsworeths’ house sits across from two lots with four tightly fitted brand new homes on the corner of Monterey Boulevard and Almedo Method NE, and he believes that the houses are an eyesore that take up too much of the property leaving little surrounding land left. The irony being his house is 1500 square feet. City authorities state they understand the issues and are aiming to stabilize the need for new construction with the desire to maintain the human scale and leafy appeal of recognized areas.
Elizabeth Abernethy’s staff have been critically assessing the impact of significant modifications to zoning allowed in 2007. In the intervening years, St. Petersburg has gone through a real estate bust that almost stopped new building followed by a stunning recovery that sustained a rush to take down smaller houses– numerous with less than 1,800 square feet– and construct big and larger.
Because 2007, the city has actually permitted 932 new houses with a median size of nearly 4,000 square feet in areas zoned “neighbourhood rural” (Snell Isle, Jungle Prada); and 2,315 square feet in areas zoned “neighbourhood traditional” (Old Northeast, Euclid-St. Paul, Crescent Lake).
A notable proposed alteration to legislation wants to establish a maximum “flooring location ratio”– the ratio of developing to the location of the lot. Contractors could be allowed to go beyond the FAR provided they implement design alterations like obstacles on the second floor; that will reduce the large appearance of the house from a street view perspective.
In addition to that would be a “building coverage limitation”, limits on how much of the property could be covered by just the home indemnity insurance. That’s to prevent circumstances where a lot of a lot’s surface area is eventually built on and impervious to rainwater that runs and triggers flooding instead of leaking into the ground.
So if a contractor constructs a lot of structures and does not leave themselves much room to come back and put in a swimming pool, a deck or pool surrounds, it could become a concern later on when new tenants move in.
In an analysis of houses built in the past two years, Abernethy’s staff discovered that 16 would be considered too big under the proposed limitations. Six of those are in low-lying Snell Island and Shores Acres.
Extenuating the large look of many Leviathans is changes to floodplains which now require 10 feet of elevation instead of 8 feet on brand-new buildings. While that lowered the city’s flood score and reduced flood insurance premiums, it means that the bottom levels of numerous new homes are boring, windowless expanses of concrete, but at least covered by insurance for owner builders.
In one area, almost identical two-story houses were built with small porches and stacked stone porches by Tampa-based developer Domain.
In total, Abernethy’s staff have proposed almost 60 revisions and specifications to the zoning codes. The City board and Development Review Commission will hold several public hearings to consider these new proposals, with a decision on whether they will be adopted expected in May.
Both the zoning changes and time could soften the opinions towards the new, larger homes, once the building is finished, just the landscaping constructions remain and the trucks and port-a-potties are gone, it won’t feel so overwhelming.