ST. PETERSBURG — For shoppers missing their neighborhood Publix near the Sunshine Skyway bridge and Pinellas Bayway, the wait is almost over.
A new 55,000-square-foot store is rising on the site of the old one. It will open its doors in early December.
That's just one of several major retail offerings coming to the Skyway Marina District, which was created in 2013 to transform the area.
The rebuilt supermarket will be one of the high points of the emerging district, which encompasses the southernmost blocks of 34th Street and serves surrounding communities including Maximo Moorings, Broadwater, Pinellas Point, Lakewood Estates and Eckerd College.
"We're excited," said City Council member Steve Kornell, who represents a portion of the area. "I think we're moving. We're making a lot of progress."
Gary Jones, a senior planner in the city's economic development department, said the creation of the business district is starting to pay off.
"It's really made the area prominent," he said. "It's put it on the forefront for real estate development."
At Maximo Marina, work on a $20 million redevelopment project will begin in November. General manager Lee Hicks said the marina, with 200 wet slips, 150 of which are covered, and "dry stacks" for about 220 boats, has selected the Orion Group of Tampa as general contractor for the three-phase project. It's projected to be completed in 18 months.
This week, Hicks said, Duke Energy will begin taking down utility poles near the docks along 37th Street S. New utilities will run underground, he said.
In July, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced good news for the vacant 9-acre property owned by Home Depot at 34th Street and 30th Avenue S. Tampa developer Phillips Development & Realty, the mayor said, plans to build 250 apartments with an additional 25,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space on the site.
Phillips Development, which has a contract on the property, is expected to close on it in December, Jones said. Meanwhile, he said, the company is working to ensure the viability of those plans ahead of the closing.
"It's not a done deal yet," Kornell said. "But the mayor's staff is meeting with them on a weekly basis, so that is an indication of its importance" to him.
The district now boasts new, Florida-friendly landscaping along its main corridors and lighted entryway signs. New pedestrian lighting — 150 in all — will illuminate sidewalks along the length of the district, which stretches from 34th Street S between 30th Avenue to 54th Avenue. The lights are scheduled to be installed next spring, Jones said.
"The intention is to improve the safety of pedestrians in the district, as well as to provide enhancement to the district," he said. "They will have banner arms and carry banners branding the district."
The city's budget for new lights and banners is $600,000. The new landscaping and signs cost $750,000.
Further efforts to attract businesses include a $50,000 incentive for the first new, qualifying, sit-down restaurant. The city also is planning a $1 million incentive for the first mixed-use project.
The new Publix anchors Bay Pointe Plaza, the shopping center at 5115 34th St. S, which is being modernized. It has remained open throughout its renovation and construction of the new supermarket. It is being updated with stone and brick details in an earth-toned palette, said Kristen Moore, spokeswoman for Brixmor, which owns the property.
"We are updating the landscaping, adding more landscaped islands in the parking area, replacing the two pylon signs and upgrading the parking lot lighting to energy-efficient LEDs," Moore said.
She added that the Publix facade will include cherry wood accents and that a 8,619-square-foot Pet Supermarket will join the supermarket at the revamped shopping center.
Progress in the Skyway Marina District can also be seen in the relocation of some staff from both Jabil and Kobie Marketing to the Ceridian Building. Burger King demolished its old restaurant on 34th Street S and rebuilt it. Wendy's has announced plans to do the same. And a long-closed restaurant is undergoing a $1.2 million conversion to serve the All Nations Seventh-day Adventist congregation.
Despite the good news, the district still struggles with undeveloped sites such as the Maxi Mall shopping center and a former Kmart. Owners of both properties "are interested in bringing businesses" to the sites, Jones said.
"There's tremendous interest in the entire district to develop various parcels," he said. "We are hopeful that there will be increased redevelopment in the district in 2017."
Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.