Sunday, July 22, 2018
Business

St. Luke's Cataract & Laser Institute opens new branch in Clearwater landmark

CLEARWATER — The pink building on S Fort Harrison Avenue, a downtown Clearwater landmark that housed Webb's Gentleman's Apparel for five decades, is now a center focused on wellness and beauty.

Dr. Pit Gills, eye surgeon and heir to the St. Luke's Cataract and Laser Institute headquartered in Tarpon Springs, and his wife, Joy, hired a Los Angeles spa designer to set the mood in their new two-story center for ophthalmology, dermatology and plastic surgery, which opened Monday.

"We wanted to create a private atmosphere," said Gills at the ribbon-cutting, as city officials sipped white wine and toured the lavender-scented grounds. "Separate waiting rooms with lighting controls, music controls. We thought, 'What would we want if we were patients here?' "

The eye surgeon, who owns six other St. Luke's locations in Florida with his father, Dr. James Gills, chose the downtown location to cut the length of trips to other clinics for their Clearwater patients.

"I drive by it every day," said Gills, who lives on Clearwater Beach. "It's central to everything, a well-known building."

And well-known, even iconic, is the pink color. Gills called the original painter for the exact shade — and ordered a fresh coat. That history, Joy said, must be preserved.

"We didn't want to make anyone in Clearwater mad," she said, laughing.

Before a crowd of community leaders Monday, Clearwater Mayor George N. Cretekos, a longtime family friend of Joy Gills, praised the business.

"St. Luke, as you know, is a physician," Cretekos said. "In his gospel, he talked about the things a physician does — healing people, providing care to people. That's what St. Luke the physician does, and that's what St. Luke's, this clinic, is going to do."

The new facility, he said, is appropriate for downtown Clearwater. It represents revitalization.

The 14,000-square-foot clinic is on an acre of land on the southeast corner of Fort Harrison Avenue and Chestnut Street.

The first floor of the building will contain the new St. Luke's Cataract & Laser Institute, focusing on ophthalmology and eye surgery. The second floor, called Reflections at St. Luke's, will offer plastic surgery, dermatology and cosmetic services.

Architect Jordan Behar, who works in Clearwater, added a private exit-elevator to the building for discretion. "We focused on flow and function above aesthetics," he said.

At the grand opening Monday, Maggie Ciadella, manager of social memberships at Ruth Eckerd Hall, wandered through the gray hallways, past waiters offering trays of smoked salmon and cream cheese. Now, she's considering scheduling an appointment.

"It's so not-clinical," she murmured. "Definitely more 'spa.' "

Danielle Paquette can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4224. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Some not-so-tiny obstacles in the growing market for tiny houses

Some not-so-tiny obstacles in the growing market for tiny houses

When Tom Alsani heard about plans for a tiny-home community in St. Petersburg, he got so excited he immediately wanted to know more. "Right now I have a house with three bedrooms but the kids are gone and I’m trying to downsize,’’ says Alsani, a qual...
Published: 07/23/18
At beach resorts, this bizarre sunscreen booth can mean business

At beach resorts, this bizarre sunscreen booth can mean business

Nothing will ruin your beach vacation faster than a sunburn.Get scorched, and suddenly everything that was meant to be fun isn’t: Massages at the spa hurt, day-drinking by the pool hurts, getting on jet skis hurts. Listening to your skincare-obsessed...
Published: 07/22/18
He was fired after an encounter with a ‘racist’ customer. After sharing his story, Home Depot changed its mind.

He was fired after an encounter with a ‘racist’ customer. After sharing his story, Home Depot changed its mind.

After a man last Thursday approached the checkout at a Home Depot in Albany, New York, staff member Maurice Rucker asked him to leash his dog. That’s when the man exploded.Rucker, a 60-year-old black man, claimed he was fired Tuesday after defending ...
Published: 07/21/18
Open office plans are as bad as you thought

Open office plans are as bad as you thought

A cubicle-free workplace without private offices is supposed to force employees to collaborate. To have them talk more face-to-face. To get them off instant messenger and spontaneously brainstroming about new ideas.But a recent study by two researche...
Published: 07/21/18
Rays 2020 brings ‘road show’ to Sun City Center Chamber

Rays 2020 brings ‘road show’ to Sun City Center Chamber

SUN CITY CENTER — Business leaders and volunteers determined to help the Rays baseball team find a new stadium home in Ybor City are willing to go to every corner of Tampa Bay to raise awareness and support.Including Sun City Center.Tampa Bay Rays 20...
Published: 07/20/18
Updated: 07/22/18
Officials speak out against demolition plans for historic Jordan Park section

Officials speak out against demolition plans for historic Jordan Park section

ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas County School board chair Rene Flowers was fired up Friday. She talked about growing up in Jordan Park, the city’s first public housing project and a sentimental and historic marker of St. Petersburg’s African-American commu...
Published: 07/20/18
Florida is still paying SunPass contractor, even after officials said they would stop

Florida is still paying SunPass contractor, even after officials said they would stop

Florida has not stopped paying the SunPass contractor responsible for the tolling system’s outage, even after transportation officials said the state would suspend all payments.In a letter on Monday, FDOT secretary Mike Dew said the state would not p...
Published: 07/20/18
Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida is one of three states in the nation with the biggest income gap between the very rich and everyone else.In 2015, a family in the top 1 percent nationally had an average income of more than $1.3 million — or 26.3 times as much as the $50,107 ...
Published: 07/20/18
Tampa International Airport ranked in top 10 for defense against cyber threats

Tampa International Airport ranked in top 10 for defense against cyber threats

TAMPA — Tampa International Airport was ranked this week as the 10th safest U.S. airport to go online without being hacked, but the ranking is not only about the place, but also about how savvy its travelers are.The data security firm Coronet ranked ...
Published: 07/20/18
When suicide threats come calling: ‘I try to make a connection.’

When suicide threats come calling: ‘I try to make a connection.’

TAMPA — At first glance, it’s a typical office with more than a dozen cubicles under florescent lights. The operators wear headsets and stare into computer screens, some tinkering with handheld toys, others browsing Facebook or chatting with colleagu...
Published: 07/20/18