Plans approved for the revitalization project along 22nd Avenue South St. Pete.

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St. Petersburg city leaders took another step this week to help revitalize a historically black neighborhood, approving a lease for city-owned land to build a major mixed-use development in the Deuces Corridor.

A group of nonprofits and religious leaders wanted to do something for the community, through the community, so they teamed up to form the Sankofa Vision Group and devised a way to bring back a thriving black neighborhood, exposing the first designs at St. Pete City Council Thursday.

The Reverend Watson Haynes, president and CEO of the Pinellas County Urban League, is among dozens of people looking to help the neighborhood along 22nd Street South bounce back as part of the Deuces Rising Project with the City.

“What makes it special is that years ago there were 100 black-owned businesses on The Deuces. Right now there are about six,” Haynes said.

The Pinellas County Urban League, Plan 2020, a community, the Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation, other local nonprofits and business leaders make up the Sankofa Vision Group. The group presented a plan to build 58 retail, office and co-working spaces on 22nd Street South to 7th Avenue and Fairfield Avenue.

“Affordable homes, we build townhouses. So we don’t build rental apartments. People would buy these townhouses. They would invest in these townhouses,” Haynes said.

St. Petersburg City Council approved the lease of 2.8 acres of land for the project. Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin told the council meeting that the move is an example of the city moving from a fairness speech to a fairness march.

“This is our last opportunity and we believe that one of our most important is to demonstrate our intention for equitable development with determined action,” Tomalin said Thursday.

Now that the ground is secure, the Sankofa group can move forward.

“We hired an African-American architect to design the project, and now we have hired Horus Construction, an African-American-owned construction company that builds everywhere else in Florida and the United States, but not here,” he said. said Haynes.

Haynes said they are also receiving more feedback from people living in the Deuces to turn the wasteland and concept into a flourishing reality.

“Now we have the opportunity to not only revitalize the community, but also bring people with income into the community so that we can build the community,” said Haynes.

The Sankofa Group plans to sit down with the architects on what needs to happen next to innovate on the project, Haynes said.

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