TAMPA — A once-beloved summertime tradition at Hyde Park Village is gone.
The up-for-sale outdoor shopping plaza will no longer host its Live Music Series, a monthly staple for more than 25 years. Funds raised from the music event went to a different charity each month. Susan Martin, general manager of the village, said in a statement Friday that "a multitude of factors contributed to the decision" to retire the music series, including "weather, vehicular traffic patterns and dwindling attendance."
"Hyde Park Village is proud to be an integral member of the South Tampa community and to adapt our special programming and charitable efforts to meet the changing needs of our shoppers," Martin wrote.
She said other events at the village will continue, such as the weekly running clubs, spring and fall art fairs, holiday tree lighting festival and the Fresh Market, a food, produce and craft event with more than 100 vendors held the first Sunday of every month.
The remaining activities aren't enough to soothe the disappointment of patrons who loved the music series, which was held the final Wednesday of every month from May through October.
"I can't believe they've stopped it," said Domingo Quintero III, a Realtor who relied on the monthly gatherings to make friends when he first moved to the area in 1997. Back then, the roads were closed to cars and the entire village became a pedestrian area, with people mingling, drinking, listening to music, eating dinner at one of the village's restaurants. It was great for families, the younger singles crowd and for networking, he said.
"It was the place to be," Quintero said.
In recent years, the festival was contained to a smaller section of the plaza. Quintero said attendance dropped because the security of an all-pedestrian zone was lost. He said he heard about the decision to cancel the event and called Hyde Park Village on Thursday. He said a staffer confirmed the decision and said it was because management wanted to divert funds to something more lucrative and popular. Quintero said he was not told what that other event could be.
"I just hung up my phone in disgust and couldn't believe it," he said.
News broke in mid May that the sprawling 270,000-square-foot center at Swann and Rome avenues is for sale. The plaza has a handful of empty storefronts and Williams-Sonoma, a mainstay of the shopping center since 1986, recently closed. The space is gaining a West Elm, a popular modern furniture and home accessories store.
Ken Walters, a Tampa businessman who has lived in Hyde Park since 1989, often threw after-parties at his house following the music events. The decision to cancel the series is a loss, he said, but he hopes new owners could revive it.
"I feel someday, somehow, something positive is going to happen there where it will become vibrant again," Walters said.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3405.