How to Give a Tour of St. Pete to Attract a Tech Company

When I previously worked at the City of St. Petersburg last year, I developed a business development tour that helped to educate non-local CEOs and directors about St. Petersburg by showing many different aspects of our city.

After receiving so many positive reviews of the tour, and even seeing the success of it with Pandadoc recently opening a regional headquarters in St. Pete (Reuben Pressman of Presence and I gave a variation of the tour), I have decided to write about my business development tour in hopes that readers of this article might find it useful.

This tour can be used for tech professionals, real estate development professionals, artists, and just about anyone else who is interested in getting a comprehensive understanding of St. Pete.  Please note that this is not the only way to give a tour, but this is a tour that has worked well in my past experience of working as a manager for the City Development Administration:

  1. Start by parking around the Greenhouse at 440 2nd Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL.
    • Quick facts about the Greenhouse
      • A partnership between the St. Pete Chamber and City of St. Petersburg to provide resources for entrepreneurs.
      • They offer free/discounted classes and advisers to small businesses and future entrepreneurs thinking about opening small businesses.
    •  The Greenhouse also coordinates efforts with other business non-profits to serve small businesses.
  2. Walk West on 2nd Ave N and turn South (left) on 5th St N. towards Central
    • Point out the big mural on the right side of the road.
      • Discuss how we are a City of murals we even have an annual festival called the Shine Mural Festival that is dedicated to creating more murals every year.
  3. Walk on to Central Avenue and head West (Right)
    • Point out small businesses, many of which are Greenhouse participants.
    • Point out the new Chihuly Collection – One of the largest collections of Dale Chihuly glass work in the entire United States.
  4. Head South (Left) on 8th S.
    • Point out the new Publix on left.
      • Third grocery store in downtown (1st Publix and Locale Market are others)
    • Point out Tropicana Field site on right.
      • Has approximately 85 acre of land that is City owned and will eventually be redeveloped.
  5. Head East (Left) on 1st Ave S.
    • Stop into the following:
      1. Presence (100 7th St S., Saint Petersburg, FL 33701) – Ed tech company with CEO Reuben Pressman that was funded over $1 million from Jeff Vinik.
        • Presence is usually ok with taking people on tours of the office.
        • Might want to stop and see Rachel Carpenter with Intrinio after (Intrinio is in the same building).
      2. The Penny Hoarder (490 1st Ave S, Ste 800) – Digital media company that has a platform with over 6 million Facebook followers.
        • The Penny Hoarder is usually ok with taking people on tours of the office.  Feel free to e-mail press@thepennyhoarder.com to book an official tour.
      3. Station House (260 1st Ave S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701) – Really neat repurposed train station (Pinellas Trail was formerly train tracks). This building serves as co-work space for many entrepreneurs in the community.
        • Take guests to the 4th floor balcony to show nice views of St. Petersburg.
    • On your walk on 1st Ave S., make sure to point out the following:
      1. Florida Holocaust Museum – One of the largest Holocaust museums in the United States.
      2. Pinellas trail – 40-mile bike trail that spans Pinellas County.
      3. Bank of Ozarks Innovation Lab – When Bank of Ozarks, headquartered in Arkansas, purchased a local bank in St. Pete, the bank was so impressed with the St. Pete tech talent that they decided to keep a lot of the national bank’s tech operations in St. Pete.
  6. After Station House, proceed North (Left from 1st Ave S) on to 2nd Street N.
    • Point out future Tom James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art Museum:
      1. Tom James, the former Executive Chairman of Raymond James, is donating $75 million and his personal collection of over 2,500 art pieces to build another major art museum in downtown St. Petersburg.
      2. Discuss how this will add to our already amazing art collections and museums.  Also describe what is on the horizon for arts.
    •  Point out the 41 story “One St. Petersburg” tower under construction.
      • Residential condo building.
      • When built, it will be the tallest building in Pinellas County.
  7. Head East (Right from 2nd St N.) onto 1st Ave N.
  8. Head North (Left from 1st Ave N) onto Beach Drive.
    • Point out that waterfront park system is 2nd largest urban waterfront park system in the entire United States, only next to Chicago.
      • Explain that the parks are charter parks and the only way they can be sold is by voter referendum.
    • Point out the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts.
      • Over 20,000 objects are owned by the museum.
    • Take tour guest into the Birchwood and ask receptionist to bring guest to rooftop bar area.
      • Great view for guest to see parks and downtown St. Pete from above.
  9. Head Back South on Beach Drive and head West (take a right) on to alley after Tryst.
    • Point out neat plaza where Ale and the Witch is located.
  10. Continue to head West on alley and stop at Sundial.
    • At Sundial, take guest through Locale Market which is a great 2 floor food destination.
  11. Head West on 2nd Ave N. (right from South portion of Sundial).
    • Point out St. Pete College and Tech Garage co-work space for entrepreneurs.
    • Point out Williams Park.
  12. Get in car and do mobile tour. 
    • Start by driving East on 2nd S. and take left on 3rd. St. N.
      • Point out American Craft Art Museum being built by a local entrepreneur who donated around $70 million to build, along with a collection of around 2,000 craft art pieces.
    • Follow 3rd N. all the way to 9th Ave. North
      • Point out the Palladium Theatre.
      • Point out the Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood and how it is full of homes form the early 1900s.
    • From 3rd N, take right on 9th Ave N., take a left onto Bay St., take a right onto 22nd St N. and take a right onto Coffee Pot Boulevard.
      • Continue on Coffee Pot where it will merge with North Shore Dr.
        • Point out Snell Isle
        • Point out the waterfront parks.
    • Take Left at 7th Ave South, right on Bayshore, right on 5th Avenue, and left on Bayshore to continue to show waterfront parks.
      • Point out Vinoy Hotel – Historic hotel built in 1925.
      • Point out Pier Project – Almost $100 million project to revitalize the pier and uplands.
      • Point out Al Lang Stadium (Rowdies stadium) – Minor league soccer stadium that owner is trying to turn into MLS team.
      • Point out Mahaffey Theatre
      • Point out Dali Museum – Museum with 2nd largest collection of Salvador Dali Work in the United States.
    • Continue on Bayshore where it eventually merges with Dali Boulevard. Take left on 1st S. and then right onto 6th Ave S. to enter St. Petersburg Innovation District.
      • Continue west on 6th Ave S. to show major assets in Innovation District.
        • Point out USF St. Petersburg – School with appx. 5,000 students that has master plan to expand to 10,000 students.
        • Point out Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital – Hospital that is affiliated with 3rd ranked medical school in the United States.  Also, point out 225,000 sf children’s medical research facility being built on 6th Ave S.
        • Point out Bayfront Hospital.
    • From 6th Ave S. take a left onto 6th St S., take a left onto 7th Ave S., take a right onto 4th St. S., and then take a right onto Roser Park Dr. S.
      • Show off Historic Roser Park – Houses on hills are different than other neighborhoods in Florida.
        • Neighborhood developed by the found inventor of the Fig Newton.
    • From Roser Park Dr. S. take a left on 8th Ave S, right on 8th St S. and head north to Central Ave.
      • Point out Tropicana Field Site.
    • Take a left on Central into Edge District
      • Point out murals.
      • Cool stores.
      • Lots of mixed use development on horizon.
    • Continue west on Central past highway into Grand Central District.
      • Point out Imagine Museum.
      • Point out LGBT Welcome Center and discuss inclusivity of St. Petersburg.
  13. Stop at Bandit Coffee (2662 Central Ave.) for some coffee
    • Bandit coffee is an old car shop repurposed into a neat coffee shop.
  14. Continue Mobile Tour by taking a left on 27th St. S., followed by a left onto 1st Ave. S, followed by a right on 22nd St. S. to Warehouse Arts District.
    • Point out breweries and murals on 1st Ave S.
    • Point out 3 Daughters Brewery on 22nd St. S.
    • Point out Morean Center for Clay (repurposed train station) on 22nd St. S.
  15. Stop at Mark Aeling’s MGA Sculpture Studio / Warehouse Arts District Association (WADA) at 515 22nd St S.
    • At the WADA office, check out development project for affordable artist space.  Note: WADA office is usually open and helpful in talking about the district.
    • WADA is creating a neat opening of its space to adjacent Pinellas Trail.
    • Discuss how City in process of master planning entire area and adding sidewalks to the Warehouse Arts District.
  16. Stop at Duncan McClellan Gallery to show world-class glass art studio located in the Warehouse Arts District at 2342 Emerson Ave S.
    • Say hi to Duncan if he is around or ask for tour from staff.
  17. Drive back to 22nd Street S and head south to show Deuces Live Business District.
    • Stop at Chief’s Creole Café and say hi to Carolyn and Elihu Brayboy if they are around. Great lunch spot if you want to have lunch with your guests.
    • Point out Carter G. Woodson Museum of African American History.
    • Stop at St. Petersburg College Midtown Campus.
      • New campus built in 2015. Neat building on inside.
  18. Optional: go to any other targeted area after (Skyway Marina District, West St. Pete, Carillon, Beaches, Etc.).
  19. Conclude tour.