Though the Grand Central at Kennedy's 392 residential units now are about 95 percent occupied, the vast swath of retail space on the ground floor of the building has remained noticeably empty.
That will change soon. The condo complex at 1208 E Kennedy Blvd. will get its first major tenant in early 2009 — a Powerhouse Gym location that will take up about 15 percent of the available 108,000 square feet of retail space.
"A fitness center has been in our plans since the inception of Grand Central six years ago," said Ken Stoltenberg, a director for developer Mercury Advisors. "It's one of the most requested uses for all the people who live at the property. It's something that has been really lacking in the area, and … a key building block you want to have in a successful urban neighborhood."
Stoltenberg said he hopes to announce more tenants soon. A major supermarket is high on the developer's wish list. "It's extremely important for the neighborhood, and we are working on it very hard," he said.
Powerhouse Gym franchise owner Matthew Midyett said his family owned five Powerhouse locations in greater Los Angeles for 20 years. Now a Lutz resident, Midyett said ample parking at Grand Central and the developer's willingness to work out a deal made it the right time to jump into the Tampa market.
"It is just really difficult for a business owner to sink a million bucks into something" right now, Midyett said. "You need the help of an educated landlord that is aware of the times."
Powerhouse Gym of Tampa Bay will take up a corner unit. The Powerhouse brand is notable for high-end equipment and a policy that allows independent trainers to use gym facilities, Midyett said. For this location, he plans a cycling room that will feature virtual reality courses and blasts of pure oxygen.
Midyett hopes the Powerhouse location will open in mid January. The gym's Web site is www.powerhousegym.com/tampabay.
One other occupant has been confirmed for Grand Central's retail space. The Tampa theater company Stageworks will move into its first permanent home early next year. Mercury Advisors donated about 6,000 square feet of space for Stageworks as a condition of the project's approval, Stoltenberg said.
For a time, Mercury Advisors had hoped to sell the ground floor spaces as retail condominiums but in recent months has decided to lease them out indefinitely.
"Obviously, given the challenging economic times, it's always the most difficult to get the first (tenant)," Stoltenberg said. "It's a use that everyone in the building and neighborhood is going to enjoy."
The developer was able to fill most of its residential units by offering about 150 unsold condos as rental apartments.
More Miami than Monaco
Jesus Abad and Nestor Urdaneta had a concept that was pretty simple: offer hip clothes just a hop from downtown.
Their 2,500-square foot boutique opened in July at 2907 W Kennedy Blvd. The store is named Monaco Boutique and Salon, but what's in it is much more reflective of its owners' backgrounds as store owners in Miami and Venezuela, Abad said.
The clothes and jewelry are trendy and urban, and all of it comes from New York, Miami or Los Angeles. It's best suited for young professionals looking for outfits for nights out.
"We get some baseball players from out of town, Buccaneer players — pretty much the crowd I get is anywhere from 18 years old to 34," Abad said.
Abad and Urdaneta leased part of their space to accommodate a salon and spa, which opened this month. The combination gives the neighborhood "something Tampa doesn't have (elsewhere) — a high-end boutique with a high-end salon," Abad said.
Clothing prices range from $45 to $169. Hours at Monaco Fashion are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sunday by appointment.
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