BY DARRYL ROUSON, Senator, District 19
I recently sat down with The Vinoy ownership and management group to talk about The Vinoy referendum, which asks St. Petersburg voters to approve the construction of a privately financed one-story parking garage behind the historic Vinoy hotel.
Parking has become a challenge in downtown St. Petersburg, and as The Vinoy has grown in popularity, nearby neighborhoods have been impacted by overflow parking from the facility.
Voting “Yes” on The Vinoy referendum would allow The Vinoy to add over 200 more parking spaces in our downtown, available to hotel guests, visitors, employees and the public. (People who aren’t staying, eating or working at the hotel can pay to park by the hour.) Many of my constituents work at The Vinoy, and this would enable them to continue to park onsite for free, even on the hotel’s busiest nights.
The biggest points about the referendum are:
• The parking garage will be paid for entirely by hotel ownership, so it will not cost taxpayers anything.
• The referendum language is specific in only allowing the hotel to build a one-story parking garage, taking eight existing surface-level tennis courts behind the hotel up one story, with parking underneath.
• The project would not alter the footprint of the hotel property, so there is no impact on nearby waterfront parks or neighborhoods.
Even though the project is on private property and would be paid for with private dollars, your vote is required because of deed restrictions on the property dating back to 1984. The Vinoy traded its waterfront property, today part of Vinoy Park, to the city to complete our waterfront parks system in exchange for 4.3 acres behind the hotel. Part of the agreement states that any construction on this land behind the hotel must be approved by voters.
Should the referendum pass, hotel ownership will be investing $10 million in the construction and development of the new garage and tennis courts. I asked the ownership group to commit to doing outreach to local minority contractors to make sure those businesses have a fair chance at getting the work.
I am pleased to say hotel ownership immediately agreed to reach out to the minority community and local minority contractors during the construction phase, with the goal of helping local minority-owned businesses benefit from this redevelopment.
I encourage you to join me in voting yes for The Vinoy referendum on Nov. 7.