ST. PETERSBURG — Local artists want to transform Central Avenue into a corridor of light with a series of illuminated glass columns.
The city turned to local artists for a concept on how to revamp bus shelters along the thoroughfare that runs from downtown out toward Treasure Island and crosses seven city districts. Their solution of shelters anchored by illuminated glass pillars and of bookending Central Avenue with an array of glass columns as a welcome portal may raise some eyebrows.
The concept was inspired by glass brick walls at the bus station and by thinking of Central Avenue as the city’s spine, said Carol Mickett, who thought up the concept along with artists Robert Stackhouse and Thaddeus Root.
“We thought of an illuminated St. Petersburg,” Mickett said. “Shopkeepers talk about the need for light in the evening so people feel safe.”
The $2.3 million project is funded through a mixture of federal funds and money from the city and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. City Council members Thursday approved moving ahead with a contract with Mickett Stackhouse Studio to head to the design phase.
The first phase of the project would pay for redesigning 10 shelters on Central Avenue and the welcome portals.
The concept could be extended to First avenues on the north and south side of Central if Pinellas voters approve the Greenlight Pinellas mass transit plan, which would add Bus Rapid Transit to those corridors.
Mickett stressed that the concept is still being designed but said one idea would be to color the columns differently for each district so they would serve as a visual guide for transit riders. For example, columns in Grand Central could be red and ones in the Edge District blue.
The welcome portals would be at Central and Beach Drive and at Central and Park Street and are likely to be grander. Preliminary concept sketches depicted columns of varying heights and colors and would serve to attract downtown visitors onto Central Avenue, Mickett said.
Dan Harvey, a member of the Central Avenue Corridor said he was concerned about how practical the shelters would be.
“How does it keep the rain out or let some air through?” he asked. “How can you see through the glass block?”
In other City Council action, council members said they want more opportunity to weigh in on Mayor Rick Kriseman’s 2015 budget. They scheduled a meeting on Aug. 28 to discuss whether the budget addresses the priorities they raised earlier in the year.