Here comes the neighborhood

Things are looking up in St. Pete's Bartlett Park. So why do the improvements fill some residents with dread?

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Others aren't as optimistic. Last October, I talked to the 13th Street Heights neighborhood association president Kiambu Mudada. Thirteen Street Heights, on the other side of MLK from Bartlett Park, isn't as far along in revitalization, but Mudada says his association members are less concerned with crime than with "what the neighborhood is going to look like in five years."

"When you say revitalization, what do you mean?" he said from his home on 12th Street S. "People are worried we will not have a black community 10 years from now."

Although he isn't seeing residents pushed out of neighborhoods yet, Councilmember Williams says the city is committed to helping residents stay in their communities.

"We have to do whatever we can to help them," he says. "They've paid their dues."

I'm sure I won't have a problem finding somewhere to rent next month. But I think the larger question will continue to loom in my mind: How long until St. Petersburg becomes unaffordable for the average resident? Will there ever be enough affordable housing? And what about the rest of Florida, which has priced thousands out of the state already?

These are heady questions that city officials, community activists and the media will have to explore in the coming years.

But for now, I have to pack.


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