Progress denied south of Central

Chico Cromartie

Dear Editor,

As many of you know the City of St. Petersburg is facing a slew of issues under Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration such as the unorthodox disbursement of CRA funds and the “sewage crisis,” which happens to be the latest public concern.

Many residents have concluded that Mayor Kriseman and his administration breached public trust in a way that is reprehensible and that there is nothing he or his staff can do to rebuild that trust at this point. The economic plan of this administration has been a disaster for residents; starting with the destruction of the iconic St. Pete Pier, to “Baseball Forever,” to the CRA program, which disbursed tax dollars to wealthy businesses outside of the CRA area.

Some citizens of south St. Pete are also done with Mayor Kriseman and his empty promises of prosperity. Many residents of south St. Pete feel that Mayor Kriseman’s economic plans do not include south St. Pete. This is evident by the wealth and privilege that surrounds the area. The number of high-end condos, apartments and businesses that now inundate downtown St. Pete is spectacular when you consider just a few years ago residents were considering naming downtown St. Pete a historic district.

Development, St. Petersburg, LetterWith all the new development that has made downtown St. Pete the focal point of economic progress and prosperity, at least in terms of conversation by this administration, none of that development has reached south of Central Avenue. In fact, the new tenants of these high-end downtown structures have brought with them an air of aristocracy that ostracizes other local residents to the point of being second-class citizens.

This is especially true when it comes to the African-American community in St. Petersburg. The new residents of these upscale condos, apartments and businesses do not patronize local black businesses south of Central or even socialize with local African Americans past the point of a curt smile or a slight nod of the head when destinations force eye contact.

Obviously, their income is substantial enough to afford luxury living quarters on or near the waterfront, so it’s safe to assume that many of our new neighbors are not native to south St. Petersburg.  We see them daily in the malls, supermarkets, shops and many events; it is understood that they are the upper echelon of local society, in the subtlest ways.

They are however, charming and cheerful when interacting among themselves and for the most part harmless in terms of being obnoxious or overly rude. They do make it clear however, that they have no economic interest south of Central Avenue, and that sentiment is quickly relayed to them by investors, realtors, businesses and marketers hired with our tax dollars who solicit their patronage. But, who can blame them? What does south St. Pete have to offer? The Deuces Live?

There are no multi-million dollar investments in south St. Pete’s corridors even though its residents will pay over 270 million in taxes over a 30 year time span and will “potentially” receive only 60 million under the CRA program.

The mayor assumes south St. Pete residents are content with block parties and a parade every year, so he has no desire to spur investment in the area, except for Tropicana Field. Even though the city promised residents that the property would be used to benefit local African Americans who sold their homes and unearthed dead relatives to make way for development.

The Kriseman administration was not even thought of when this 40-year-old promise was made, and it’s obvious that they do not plan to honor it, like many of their predecessors who worked for taxpayers.

Chico Cromartie

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