The planned $70 million Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement in St. Petersburg is closer to reality now that ground has been broken on its parking garage.
This is a significant development for two reasons: It's a concrete indication of museum founder Rudy Ciccarello's intention and financial ability to follow through with his plans. And it has been designed, unlike most parking garages, to be a harmonious architectural and aesthetic component of the museum complex.
The museum will house Ciccarello's collection of art, furniture and decorative and architectural objects from the early 20th century design movement, considered one of the finest private holdings in the world with an estimated value between $40 million and $50 million.
The 3.5-acre site at Fourth Avenue N between Third and Fourth streets was purchased from Synovus Bank, which is adjacent to it, and has been the bank's parking lot. Part of the agreement was that the garage be built first so that parking would be available for the bank's employees and customers.
Tom Magoulis, executive director of the Two Red Roses Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that Ciccarello formed, and which officially owns the collection, said "it will be consistent with the very high standards of the overall project. It will be the nicest parking garage in St. Petersburg. And beyond."
The four-story building with 303 spaces is designed by Tampa architect Albert Alfonso, who also is designing the museum.
"This is not a typical parking garage," Alfonso said, estimating its cost at about $6 million. "We are creating precast, thin elements that will screen the guts of the garage (on the Third Street side), with LED uplights that can have colored lenses to light the screens. On the museum side, there will be stainless mesh with a grid pattern. This will be a civic building."
Magoulis expects construction to take about eight to 10 months, with museum construction commencing after its completion.
"And we won't be using pile drivers," he said, referring to some buildings under construction which do, causing noisy pounding that have disrupted nearby residents and businesses.
The bank will be allotted 130 spaces and the rest will be used by the museum, although Magoulis said nearby businesses have inquired about renting some of them.
The five-story museum will have 110,000 feet of space, the largest in the Tampa Bay area, with galleries for Ciccarello's collection, an auditorium, library, restaurant and gift shop.
"We expect to open the museum in the summer of 2017," Magoulis said.
Contact Lennie Bennett at [email protected]