Barkett Realty Leads Initiative to Break Ground On New Park Under I-375 Along MLK Jr. Street Corridor In Historic Uptown
January 29, 2022 – A new public park that’s underway near the Historic Uptown neighborhood and the MLK Business District is slated to open Feb. 28th. The park, occupying the space under Interstate I-375, is located at the corner of 5th Avenue North and Dr. MLK Jr. Street North. The park wasn’t expected to be finished until May, but city officials say construction is well ahead of schedule. The park will help connect the Martin Luther King Business District even further to Downtown St. Petersburg and the Historic Uptown District by creating a walkable thoroughfare. It will have shaded gathering spaces and event spaces, public parking and will be dog-friendly. The initiative to build this park is led by John Barkett of Barkett Realty and city officials.
St. Petersburg, FL — A new park, occupying the space under I-375 along Dr. M.L.K. Jr St. N, will officially (and tentatively) break ground in April 2021.
This park will add shaded public parking and gathering space, and help to connect the Martin Luther King Business District even further to Downtown St. Petersburg and the Historic Uptown District. The initiative to build this park is led by John Barkett of Barkett Realty alongside City Council Vice-Chair Gina Driscoll, Transportation Director Evan Morey, Parks and Recreation Supervisor Mike Jeffries, and other city officials.
As one of the active business owners and a board member of the M.L.K. Business District, John Barkett, MAI, owner of Barkett Realty, has worked closely with public officials, business owners, and community organizations to curate a district that meets the needs of St. Pete’s residents—and continues to work to evolve the area. The I-375 Park will serve as the first of many upcoming park projects that aim to connect St. Pete’s unique business and neighborhood districts, and improve the city’s walkability and year-round outdoor event potential by eliminating the bifurcation created when the interstate system was developed.
“The ask for this park came directly from the public, and the City is happy to listen and make the most of their existing long-term land leases with Florida DOT in a way that strengthens the city,” said John Barkett, “We live in a very rare community where voices are heard and you can truly make lasting change that can positively impact your local community for generations to come. That’s just one of the reasons why I love living and working in St. Petersburg.”
The plan for the park includes shaded gathering spaces, public parking, event space, public mural art, and dog-friendly green space. Most importantly, it will create a walkable thoroughfare connecting Downtown and Historic Uptown, becoming one of the northernmost points for St. Pete’s bike share and new scooter pilot program. The design will come to fruition after securing half a million dollars of funding from sources outside of the city’s budget.
“St. Pete is unique, in that it’s a small town-feel with world-class amenities and big goals. Creating park spaces and additional walkability connects our city’s districts and helps our local business thrive,” said Council Member Gina Driscoll, “This space will provide opportunities for shaded outdoor gathering and events—something we truly need in the summer months. If we’re able to create more multimodal spaces like this in key locations, it only helps to connect the unique districts in and around Downtown and strengthen our community for residents, visitors, and local businesses alike.”
In addition to the outdoor initiative, there will be a subsequent public art component to the project. A blank canvas will be available in the form of several columns and flat panels underneath I-375 as well as along the on-ramp, providing space for local St. Petersburg artists to showcase their work, bringing new life to the MLK district, while lighting up the space at night and making it more secure and pedestrian friendly.