ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The historic Tomlinson Building in St. Petersburg’s Mirror Lake District currently serves as a storage facility. Previously, it was an adult education center, and now, Pinellas County school officials want to turn it into staff housing.
The district issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the project on Tuesday. According to the RFP, the goal is to address the workforce housing shortage for teachers and other PCS workers.
“Pinellas County is a very desirable place to live and work with very few areas to develop housing. To attract the best teachers to our community, we must be proactive in providing housing choices that are affordable and attractive,” PCS Superintendent Kevin Hendrick said in a press release. “This project aims to innovatively and collaboratively address housing for our teachers and other district employees. I look forward to working with the successful bidder to create something truly special for our employees and our community.”
The lack of affordable housing in Pinellas County has led to widespread talk among business leaders as they struggle to depend on their workforce. The latest move by PCS underscores how the climate is affecting teachers and other district staff, coming as teachers struggle to keep up with rising overall cost of living.
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“What are we doing when we can’t substantially help our teachers and educators attract educators to this area?” asked a 29-year veteran teacher at a Sept. 13 school board meeting. “What are we going to do? Think If you can’t give us a good raise, what are you going to do? Think.”
The Tomlinson site is 1.7 acres and consists of 10 parcels. Seven of them are developable land. The building is three stories, built in 1924 and has an area of just under 41,000 square meters. The RFP states that the building must be preserved, with the guiding principle that developers provide the maximum number of residential units at the lowest possible rent.
The district is looking for proposals for public-private partnerships. A site visit and walk-through is scheduled for November 18 for interested bidders. Proposals are due February 1.