“…the best way to honor our difficult past is to acknowledge it and move forward with a plan which aims to repair the damage inflicted upon Southside St. Petersburg’s African American community.”
Behar + Peteranecz Architectural Designer Sarah-Jane Vatelot made the case for repairing damage done by the systematic displacement of African Americans in St. Petersburg from their historic neighborhoods in and around the site of Tropicana Field in an Op-ed published by The St. Pete Catalyst.
The best way to honor the site’s past while also bringing new life to the Tropicana Field site, Vatelot writes, is to acknowledge those communities that were affected by its redevelopment and give them a stake in the future of the site.
“The site needs to provide varied scales of mixed-use programming so that people can work and live on-site and, most importantly, it needs to be a mixed-income neighborhood. Rather than building isolated affordable housing units, which ultimately reinforce the stigma that exists around poverty, we need to rethink our approach and begin to integrate affordable housing with moderate-income housing and higher-income housing,” writes Vatelot. “Our neighborhoods are economically segregated, and I propose that St. Pete boldly embrace forward-thinking policies which will benefit not only the African American community but the community at large by creating a mixed-income neighborhood in the heart of its city.”
Vatelot dedicated her graduate work at the USF School of Architecture and Community Design to the past and future of the Tropicana Field site. Now an Architectural Designer at Behar + Peteranecz Architecture, Vatelot is part of the architecture team designing The Factory St. Pete, located in the heart of South St. Pete.
“At Behar + Peteranecz we believe that a home or business doesn’t end at its walls. We are committed to social consciousness, positive impact, and to supporting the communities in which we work,” said Jordan Behar, founding principal at Behar + Peteranecz Architecture. “Sharing that commitment, Sarah-Jane brings a valuable resource and insight to our firm as our city continues to grow.”
About Behar + Peteranecz Architecture
Behar + Peteranecz Architecture is a St. Petersburg-based design institution with over 10 years of experience perfectly balancing detail, innovation and practicality to create beautifully constructed commercial and residential spaces. Their portfolio includes hotels, education facilities, community centers, restaurants, office buildings, healthcare facilities, mixed-use buildings and luxury custom homes. Their holistic approach brings the dreams of their clients into reality through an efficient and creative process that has a strong foundation in design excellence.