Make us your home page
Instagram

Block party celebrates renovated Crislip Arcade in downtown St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Local leaders and artists on Tuesday unveiled a renovated Crislip Arcade downtown that will soon house eight art galleries.

The arcade was "a dump" before the owner, with city help, decided to transform it into an artists colony, said City Council Chairwoman Leslie Curran.

"I'm sorry," she told about 200 people gathered outside the arcade Tuesday morning. "I'm being nice about that."

The historic spot at 645 Central Ave. has come a long way from being filled floor-to-ceiling with forgotten furniture and damaged by the city's homeless and vandals.

Guests walked through the hallway after the ceremony, admiring the Cuban floor tiles, tall ceilings decked with iron chandeliers and a huge iron gate waiting to be installed in the front and back entrances.

The 600 block of Central had fallen on hard times after the real estate boom went bust. Plans for condos forced out small businesses, but the real estate implosion left a string of empty store fronts.

"It was never this beautiful," said Phyllis Eig, a wedding planner who moved here in the 1960s. "It's hard to remember because this has been nothing for so many years."

The arcade's facelift and the 600 block is part of a larger revamping of Central Avenue storefronts from Beach Drive to 16th Street N.

Officials said the arcade will revitalize local arts. The property owner rents out the space at a reduced price, leaving the tenant in charge of sprucing up the place.

Fourteen spaces along the block were also available for leasing, Curran said. She was flooded with phone calls and has a waiting list of about 150 people.

Mayor Bill Foster, wearing a white Rays jersey, said work still needs to be done to fill in the gaps from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street to 16th Street N.

Built in 1926, the arcade's heyday lasted about 30 years. The open-air, covered hallway with a string of small retails shops on either side was the style of the city's 10 similar shopping venues.

The advent of malls and air-conditioned spaces would lure shoppers away from downtown. The arcade, one of three remaining in St. Petersburg, languished ever since.

Most owners on the block left their businesses in 2006, when a developer bought the property for $2.3 million with intentions of tearing the building down for a $35 million condominium. Then the boom went bust.

In 2008, Thomas Gaffney, of Oldsmar Land Holding Company, bought the property for $2.3 million. He told the City Council he didn't have any plans for the space last spring, so Curran persuaded him to adopt her vision for an artist colony.

It would have never happened without his willingness to rent it out for a few years, Curran said.

Gaffney was modest.

"The money that was spent here was the easy part," he said.

Follow This Just In on Twitter.

Kim Stone paints outside the Dazzio Art Experience, a couple doors down from the Crislip Arcade at 645 Central Ave. “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to St. Pete,” she said of the Crislip’s renovation.  Stone said she thinks this could be a step toward making St. Petersburg an art destination.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

Kim Stone paints outside the Dazzio Art Experience, a couple doors down from the Crislip Arcade at 645 Central Ave. “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to St. Pete,” she said of the Crislip’s renovation. Stone said she thinks this could be a step toward making St. Petersburg an art destination.

Block party celebrates renovated Crislip Arcade in downtown St. Petersburg 04/06/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 4:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park

    Business

    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers

    Business

    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Banking

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]