St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

Published December 15 2017
Updated December 15 2017

ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, under construction since 2015, is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2019.

The five-story, 137,100-square-foot building will house businessman and collector Rudy Ciccarello’s extensive collection of furniture, pottery, tile, metalwork, lighting, photography and other decorative arts from the American Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Ciccarello is building the $90 million museum, which includes an already complete 303-space garage, mostly with his own money.

Thursday, Tom Magoulis, executive vice president of the museum, and Tampa architect Alberto Alfonso gave an update of the project to the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership.

Ciccarello’s $90 million investment does not include the value of the collection, Magoulis said. He added that the museum is the first of its kind in the nation, in fact, the world, and expects to attract 150,000 domestic and international visitors annually.

Describing it as "a project of epic proportions," Alfonso said Ciccarello’s commitment to excellence can be seen in the quality of the building and materials of the museum, whose exterior will be clad in granite from South America and feature bronze detailing. The interior will include an atrium, a circular staircase and 40,000 square feet of gallery space, he said.

The new Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement will also include a retail shop, event spaces, 100-seat auditorium, an area for children’s education, a graphic arts studio and administrative offices. A 9,000-square-foot destination restaurant is also planned.

The facility was also on the agenda of the St. Petersburg City Council’s meeting Thursday. Under an agreement approved unanimously, the city will give the museum, which occupies 3.2 acres at 355 Fourth St. N, $500,000 for streetscape improvements.

That type of agreement is not unusual, said Chris Ballestra, the city’s managing director of development coordination.

"We’ve worked with a couple of comparable projects that have substantial economic impact to the city, and regionally, as well," he said during an interview. "We provided the Dali (Museum) with two and a half million dollars and we got the county to provide them with two and a half million dollars and those were unrestricted funds they could use towards the physical building."

"This is a wonderful opportunity for the city," Council Member Jim Kennedy said, adding that St. Petersburg is "blessed" to have Ciccarello’s project. Other council members were similarly effusive.

In August, the Pinellas County Commission agreed to give $6 million in bed tax money to the facility. The money will be distributed over the next three years.

According to the agreement between the city and the museum, the streetscape improvements will include replacing existing sidewalks on Third Avenue N. Work will also include a "bulb-out," or curb extension, at the intersection of Third Street and Third Avenue N. An additional curb extension will be built at the intersection of Third Street and Fourth Avenue N. Sidewalk improvements are also being planned along Fourth Street. The work, all on the city right-of-way, will include landscaping.

The work will be done by the museum’s contractor and reimbursed by the city, Ballestra said. As part of the agreement, the museum will be responsible for maintenance, while the city will install signs and help to market the facility. The museum will also give the city rent-free access 12 times a year.

"We’re looking forward to them completing their project," Ballestra said. "We have a lot of projects that will be coming online in 2018 and 2019, the pier and the James Museum in 2018, and the Arts and Crafts Museum in 2019....We are very excited for what this museum will bring downtown."

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes