Largo sees new apartments, shops, streetscaping

Largo’s long-sought downtown redevelopment is progressing, thanks to a mix of public and private projects along the West Bay Drive and Clearwater-Largo Road corridors.

“I think we are at that critical point where we are starting to get both the city’s public investment and the private investment that will create a critical mass,” says Community Development Director Carol Stricklin.

Off Rosery and Clearwater-Largo roads, Atlanta-based developer Pollack Shores Real Estate Group has announced plans for The Rosery, a walkable mixed-use development near the Pinellas Trail that will include ground-floor retail, 224 apartments and amenities such a resort-style pool, outdoor seating area, fire pit, hammock garden and club room with internet café. A plaza at the corner of Rosery and Clearwater-Largo roads will host public art displays and other activities.

“The Rosery will draw a mix of young professionals and active adults seeking to live in a walkable, urban-style environment,” Pollack Shores Director of Central Florida Anthony Everett says in a press release.

Pollack Shores previously developed and sold Gateway North off Roosevelt Boulevard. In a statement, company officials say they chose the area again because of the hot market in Tampa Bay, where the year-to-year growth in rental rates outpaces most other metropolitan areas of the U.S. Construction of The Rosery is slated to start in April.

Stricklin says the city’s decision more than a decade ago to acquire and assemble land and make it available for sale to developers has also started to produce results after slowing in the wake of the recession.

North of West Bay along Ridge Road, the 29-loft 158 Ridge Apartment Homes opened on one of those tracts in late 2017. On Seminole Boulevard south of West Bay, construction of the 9,000-square-foot West Florida Dance Studio is nearing completion on another piece of property the city made available for development.

The largest planned project in Largo’s redevelopment, the mixed-use retail and residential West Bay Lofts, has a June deadline to break ground under a contract with the city. That project will stretch along the 500 block of West Bay Drive, a parcel of land the city acquired and sold where Barley Mow Brewing once operated, and the 600 block.

A short distance to the east, Stricklin says, the city is in talks with a developer interested in building a mixed-use, multistory development on privately held land on the 300 block of East Bay Drive, the former site of a Schiller International University location.

On the public investment side, Largo plans to break ground on a trio of projects intended to improve walkability along the West Bay Drive corridor between Missouri/Seminole Boulevard and the Pinellas Trail, a stretch the city considers the core of its downtown.

On a triangular piece of land off Seminole Boulevard across from bustling Largo Central Parks, Booth Design Group out of St. Petersburg has designed a gateway plaza that will include public art.

To the west, the city has secured grant funding to build a trailhead project on the south side of West Bay at the Pinellas Trail. Stricklin says that project will include painting the Pinellas Trail bridge over West Bay and accessibility improvements that will hopefully entice walkers and cyclists to venture off the trail and explore downtown’s restaurants, shops, and events.

Finally, the first streetscaping project along West Bay in 20 years will include a reconstructed sidewalk, new streetlights, and signalized mid-block crosswalks.

“We have these three major investments that will go from one end of the corridor to the other to create a much more pleasant and walkable experience,” Stricklin says.

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry is a freelance writer living in Clearwater. Chris spent more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys our local music scene, great weather and the wealth of outdoor festivals.
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