St. Petersburg: A mecca for walkable new construction?

Once a major retirement destination known as 'God's Waiting Room' and stagnant growth, St. Petersburg is proving that new home construction doesn't always mean building farther out.

Incorporated as a town in 1892, with a population of 300, growth spurts during the 1920s Florida land boom and post World War II suburbia, would leave the city largely built out with 238,647 residents by 1980. Between 1980 and 2010, the 61.7-square-mile city’s population only increased by 6,122 residents.

However, increasing its population by 12,314 residents between 2010 and 2015 without annexation, has led to it being recognized in a recently released report by ranking cities with a population of at least 200,000 by the percentage of walkable properties in relation to how walkable the city already was.

Anchored by the country’s third-largest dedicated public waterfront park system and a downtown that has been rated among the best in the South, Redfin ranked St. Petersburg along with Chicago, Cleveland, Boston and Seattle as the only american cities where more than 80% of new homes have a Walk Score higher than the citywide score.

Redfin’s methodology used Walk Score data to get the Walk Score of each new housing unit developed in 2016 and compared it to its city’s Walk Score.

While some may find reason to debate Redfin’s findings, a trip to the American Planning Association (APA) Florida’s 2016 statewide conference provided Modern Cities with the opportunity to provide our readers with a look at the infill residential construction boom currently consuming Florida’s 4th largest city.


Article and photographs by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at