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Neighborhood Notebook | Compiled by Eric Smithers

South Tampa neighborhood news


Since May, the West Tampa Center for the Arts has sat dormant. A fire inspection revealed a lack of fire exits, forcing organizers to shut down the historic cigar factory that provides work space for more than 25 artists.

Almost two months to the day later, the building will reopen its doors when it joins forces with Cigar City Magazine and hosts an exhibition featuring photographs of West Tampa's historic cigar factories.

Center director Maida Millan said the event — from 6 to 9 tonight in the Santaella Cigar Factory at 1906 N Armenia Ave. — has been cleared by the fire marshal, who said steps to begin eliminating code violations were adequate to host more events.

Tampa Fire Marshal Todd Spear told the owners on May 23 that the second and third floors of the building did not meet codes. He initially instructed them to vacate the building within a week, but Millan said he changed his mind after seeing plans to update the facility.

"Thank goodness the fire marshal saw that (the owner) was willing to do whatever was within reason," she said.

The exhibit will feature the release of Cigar City's West Tampa issue, which highlights the history and heritage of the era. A collection of photos by renowned architectural photographer Todd McDonald will also be displayed.

Millan said resident artists' studios at the West Tampa Center for the Arts will be open to the public.

Appetizers and beverages will be served with live musical entertainment. A $2 donation is suggested. For more information, call the museum at 453-4381.


Kid City will soon close its doors as plans progress for the Glazer Children's Museum, which will be built on the north end of Curtis Hixon Park, next to the planned Tampa Museum of Art. The long-standing Kid City, at 7550 N Boulevard, will close Oct. 5.

Since 1989, Kid City has provided children with 16 learning exhibits, but Tracy Clouser, vice president of development and marketing, said the facility was old and lacked room to grow.

"We want the opportunity to expand our programs and exhibits," she said.

The new $21-million state-of-the-art museum will be built downtown and feature 14 galleries organized around different themes, art, construction and communication, Clouser said. It will have 175 exhibits designed to let kids have fun but learn at the same time, she said.

Construction on the children's museum will begin in January and should take about 12 to 14 months, Clouser said. The museum is being named after the Glazer family because of its $5-million donation to help construct the facility.

Kid City will have two last hoorahs before the end of the year, one in November and another in December. Clouser said the events will celebrate the impact the building has had on the community.


This week, East Ybor Historic and Civic Association president Fran Costantino fired off an e-mail to city officials, echoing her cry of more than a year: She fears her neighborhood is becoming "cremation capitol of the world."

She received a letter from the Environmental Protection Commission alerting her that the owner of Cremation Center of Tampa Bay, which last year scored air pollution permits for two cremation units that include smokestacks, has asked the EPC for three more — two for animals and one for humans.

Owner Rebecca Yebba is expect to begin constructing the units Aug. 11, to expand the business at her property at 1401 N 26th St.

In her e-mail, Costantino urged city officials to look over zoning guidelines that allow crematories to pollute the air just outside the boundaries of a historic neighborhood.

"With the present zoning," she asks, "how many more will follow?"


The Historic Ybor Neighborhood Civic Association will host its general meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Ritz Theater at 1505 E Seventh Ave.

Agenda items include a presentation on the new voting machines by the Hillsborough County supervisor of elections, a seminar on prohibited home renovations and the grants and loans available through the Historic Preservation Commission of Tampa and the Barrio Latino Commission. For more information, call president Tony LaColla at 787-2055.

Times staff writer Alexandra Zayas contributed to this report. If you know of news in your community, contact Eric Smithers at or (813) 226-3339.

South Tampa neighborhood news 07/24/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 24, 2008 4:30am]
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