A Past, Present, and Future of North Park
A Walk in the Past
This past month, North Park Main Street had the opportunity to take a historical walking tour of North Park’s Commercial District courtesy of the great folks at the North Park Historical Society. It was amazing to listen and learn about the history behind our built environment. On pretty much every corner of our neighborhood, there is a story behind the building or behind the people who developed our community.
We learned about where the last Piggly Wiggly stood, how West Coast Tavern got its name, and how 40 acres of citrus farms were developed into a urban mecca for shopping. The past of North Park has directly informed its present, and North Park Main Street stands by it’s mission to champion development that preserves the community’s historic integrity.
If you love history, North Park, or both, we strongly encourage you to connect with the North Park Historical Society. They host meetings, provide guided tours, and have produced several books on North Park’s history that you can find in North Park bookstores.
Appreciation of the Present
The Observatory (formerly the North Park Theatre) is a great example of our community unifying to support and preserve important aspects of our history. In the early 2000s a coalition of community members and city officials worked to upgrade this historical landmark. Their work to preserve the theatre also helped support the efforts that eventually led to North Park Garage and North Park Mini Park, both which service crucial functions in our community today. This highlights how we can preserve key cultural landmarks of our neighborhood while also building new, functional components that better serve and complement the existing environment.
Outside of buildings and parks, North Park continues to develop as a transit hub, another example of history repeating itself. In a previous version of North Park, you’d be hard pressed to find a place with better connections thanks to the early streetcar network. Today, 30th St & University Ave are crucial transit points for our rapid and frequent MTS service. We’ve also experienced an increase in multi-modal transit with the introduction of the bike lanes and improved bike rack coverage.
Communities continually evolve, and North Park is no different. Our built environment looks different as we adapt to the times and develop safe, walkable communities that support our needs. Changes are tough, and there are many tradeoffs, but North Park Main Street is excited about new developments and what it means for our long-term future. However, we do not forget the importance of our history and preserving pieces of it that can both teach us about the past and serve us in the present.
Be a Part of Planning the Future
The future is upon us! In February, the City will finalize a major development that looks to improve the accessibility of North Park by finishing up the University Avenue Mobility Plan (UAMP). This long-awaited capital improvement project increased ADA compliance, added landscaped medians, improved traffic safety, and will be implementing a dedicated bus lane on University Ave.
Additionally, the City is completing pedestrian curb extensions around the North Park Mini park to improve traffic and pedestrian safety. NPMS is also working on exciting transit projects to help support and increase accessibility in North Park. These projects include neighborhood electric vehicles deployed through an on-demand shuttle service, increased education about the services and programs available at the North Park Garage, and continuing to promote improved employee transit benefits. These developments are a part of the overall push to support a safe and walkable community.
On top of city improvements, North Park anticipates further mixed-use developments coming to our community. There are several applications in with the City for multi-story developments that will help further North Park’s vision for a diverse, transit-oriented community. NPMS’s role in development is to champion those efforts that keep true to our neighborhood character and integrity. That is a tough role and requires a lot of engagement and input from our community.
North Park Main Street has been grateful for our active and engaged Board of Directors for the past two years. These individuals have played key roles in providing guidance and support as our community has navigated various challenges. We are excited to open up our election season and invite North Park property owners and business owners to join our Board of Directors. If you have a business or property within either the boundaries of North Park’s Special Enhancement District or Business Improvement District and resonate with our mission, we encourage you to apply to become a board member or contact us to learn more about the opportunity.
The Application window will be open from February 6th to March 8th. The voting window will be open from March 14th to March 28th.
We look forward to the continued collaboration within our community to elevate North Park to its highest potential as the premier neighborhood to live, work, and play!