ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Light manufacturing is the driving force behind one of St. Petersburg's next "urban villages".
Commerce Park, is 14-now-empty acres on 22nd Street South, but it will eventually contain several small manufacturers tucked behind retail space and apartments facing the street.
EMP Industries, which makes high tech pumping equipment for marinas, is the lead developer.
"You normally think of industrial development as 15 miles outside of town," EMP president Tom Callahan told FOX 13 News. "But I think there's a lot of small companies that don't want to be 15 miles outside of town."
At least two other manufacturers are slated to join EMP, all of them involved in the marine industry, and all of them thinking about sharing resources.
"One of the companies that's moving to Commerce Park is a metal fabricator" Callahan said, "So we're going to share robotic welding equipment."
The City of St. Petersburg acquired the acreage years ago with funds provided by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"Our main focus are the jobs that are coming to that site. That's been the focus for that site from its very beginning," Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin told FOX 13 News. "The housing is a wonderful aspect of it, the retail is fantastic, but the creation of these jobs is what drives this project."
A development agreement now being finalized will require at least of the manufacturing jobs go to low-to-moderate income workers who live near the site.
Tomalin said "wrap-around services" to help prospective employees succeed are also in the planning stages.
Once the development agreement is finalized construction of the "urban village" will take about 18 months.