ST. PETERSBURG — Steeped in the city's tourism history, the Tramor Cafeteria has long captivated visitors with its balconies, arches, swirling columns and ceiling painted blue with clouds.
Now the local historic landmark that got its start in 1930 as a seasonal cafeteria for winter visitors and later became a lunchtime stop for downtown workers and nearby residents, is for lease or sale.
The building at 123 Fourth St. S is owned by the Tampa Bay Times, which bought the building in 1981. It was renovated and reopened as the cafeteria for staffers in 1985. In recent years the Times has used the historic cafeteria to host functions and meetings, while some employees use it to eat lunches brought from home.
"It's not being used to its full capacity," Times spokeswoman Jounice Nealy-Brown said.
"The building is beautiful, and has such a charm about it and it just seems to make sense that we would want that building to be used,'' she said. "It doesn't make sense to have it sit and be underutilized. We would love to find a very good owner or a very good tenant that would be able to revitalize the Tramor.''
The property is listed with Box Realty Advisors, which has an office in Tampa.
LoopNet, a commercial real estate website, gives the rental rate for the 15,000-square-foot building as $18 a square foot.
"The sale price, we are going to let the market determine that," real estate agent David Box said. "There's quite a lot of demand and interest."
Ned Willis, president of Vector Commercial Real Estate Services, is familiar with the rising demand for downtown property.
"From a standpoint of the market being active, especially in the restaurant and bar side of things, I think it's a good time,'' he said, mentioning high demand on Jannus Live, Central Avenue and Beach Drive.
Most of the interest is for leasing, Willis said.
The city's historic preservation website describes the Tramor as "a prime example of Mediterranean Revival style architecture." The interior was designed to create the illusion of dining on the patio of a Spanish hacienda, it says. Built in 1929, it opened for business as Bob's Cafeteria in 1930 and became the Tramor Cafeteria nine years later.
Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this article. Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.