Make us your home page
Instagram

Largo's Missouri Avenue experiencing economic revival

LARGO — Missouri Avenue is a mixed bag. It's a jumbled assortment of auto body shops, fast food joints, check-cashing businesses, carpet and furniture showrooms, family restaurants and big-box chains.

Its dated strip centers are a magnet for locally owned small businesses. It's an affordable place to shop, surrounded by mostly blue-collar and moderate-income neighborhoods.

Now, after a long recession, the stretch of Missouri Avenue that runs through Largo is starting to see some construction and redevelopment activity.

Things are looking up. But there remain some long-vacant spots that are sources of blight along this busy road, like missing teeth in the middle of a smile. There's an abandoned-looking structure that resembles a haunted house. There's a nearly 8-acre lot with nothing but asphalt and weeds.

In recent times, the most desolate spot had been the intersection of Missouri and Rosery Road, with an abandoned gas station, a closed Kmart and a dead Publix.

Now, new buildings are rising there.

By the end of summer, Walmart will move across Missouri Avenue, leaving behind its aging store on the intersection's southwest corner. The retail giant is building a modern store on the southeast corner. That replaces a 40-year-old Kmart that closed in 2012 and was recently torn down.

The new Walmart will be 119,000 square feet, similar in size to the old one across the street.

On the northwest corner of the intersection, a shopping center called Midway Plaza is being remade by construction crews, a couple of years after a Publix moved out. A 45,000-square-foot LA Fitness will soon appear, as well as a T.J. Maxx and a Ross Dress For Less.

"It's great to see another location be redeveloped," said Teresa Brydon, Largo's economic development manager. "Over the next year, there's going to be an amazing change at that intersection."

A notoriously unsightly, boarded up gas station sits on the southeast corner. With the new Walmart under construction, companies are showing interest in gas station location, Brydon said.

Just south of the Midway Plaza site, the real estate company Primerica is marketing a 7.62-acre vacant parcel, most of it a windswept, weedy parking lot. A new Wawa convenience store is slated for the section fronting Missouri Avenue. The rear of the lot, bordering Rosery Road, remains on the market.

"Missouri Avenue was one of the city's first major commercial corridors. It really does have that mixed-use character," said Carol Stricklin, Largo's community development director. "There are some older commercial plazas that are in need of revitalization. Retail properties have a life cycle, and I think you're starting to see the market respond to that."

Here's what's happening at some other spots:

Current Walmart: The retail giant's location on the west side of Missouri will soon be empty, but Walmart has a lease on that space for several more years and may continue renting it to keep competitors away.

"I'd like to avoid having a dark box. I'm hopeful we'll be able to backfill it with other retailers," said Paul Puma, regional president for Kimco Realty Corp., which owns the shopping center with the current Walmart.

Roosterfish Grill: This seafood restaurant opened in May 2013 at 776 Missouri, taking over the spot that used to be Balla's Steak House (and Sports Bar & Grill, the Great Lakes Fish House, 1st & Ten Sports Bar and Rib City Grill before that).

"I'm excited about the additions coming in nearby. We're looking forward to being in Largo for a long time," said Fred Hurley, who owns the place with his wife, Sandra. They chose this area for their new venture because of its population density.

Missouri Mart: There's a freshly paved parking lot at this strip mall that houses small storefronts midway between Rosery and Belleair roads.

"We're trying to spiffy everything up. We've been putting in quite a few additional tenants, and hopefully we'll be able to continue doing that," said property manager Ken Gasbarro. "The key has been to adjust the rents to make it affordable for these small businesses."

The "haunted house:" A gray-colored two-story building at 1751 Missouri remains painted like a haunted house, with gargoyles and vampires. It's been vacant since 2007, when a couple tried to open a Halloween-themed business but got shut down by code violations.

Property records list its owner as Helene Urbin, the female half of that couple. Two years of taxes are due on it, and a foreclosure suit has been filed, according to public records.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBrassfield.

Largo's Missouri Avenue experiencing economic revival 04/29/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 6:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay home prices still soaring amid tight supply

    Real Estate

    But despite Tampa Bay recording its most expensive residential sale ever — $11.18 million for Clearwater's fabled Century Oaks estate — there were signs that the pace of price increases may be slowing just a bit for single-family homes.

    The historic Century Oaks estate overlooking Clearwater Harbor has sold for $11.18 million, the most ever paid for a home in the Tampa Bay area. [Courtesy: Coastal Properties Group]
  2. These days, don't hit the theme park without an app and a phone charger

    Florida

    Emile Crawford stocks two back-up phone battery chargers these days when she takes her kids to Disney World. But she dare not venture into a theme park without a smart phone app, an accessory becoming as necessary as sunscreen in Florida theme parks.

    A wristband visitors will wear at the new Volcano Bay water park in Orlando, Florida. The wristband, called Tapu Tapu, tells you when it's your turn to get on a ride. It also lets you pay for food so you don't have to carry a wallet and opens lockers so you don't have to  carry a key. (Universal via AP)
  3. James Cameron, Zoe Saldana and more appear at Disney's Pandora

    Florida

    ORLANDO — As he stood on a stage at Disney World Wednesday, director James Cameron revealed his teenage dreams.

    Zoe Saldana tweeted a photo of herself from Wednesday's appearance at a new land in Disney's Animal Kingdom, Pandora -- the World of Avatar. The land is based on James Cameron film, in which she stars. Photo via Twitter.
  4. Parent of struggling DeVry University is changing its name to Adtalem

    Corporate

    Associated Press

    DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. — The company that owns one of the nation's largest for-profit college chains is changing its name.

    This 2009 photo shows the entrance to the DeVry University in Miramar, Fla. DeVry Education Group, which owns DeVry University, announced Wednesday that it will now be called Adtalem Global Education. 
[Associated Press file photo]

  5. New DEP secretary says there's no conflict in political side businesses

    News

    TALLAHASSEE — When Noah Valenstein, the newly appointed head of the Department of Environmental Protection, was applying in April to be the state's top environmental regulator, he left one thing off the application: Companies he started and his wife runs have been paid nearly $1 million by politicians and lobbying …

     Noah Valenstein got the job as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday May 23rd, on a unanimous vote by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. He will take the helm on June 5, with a salary of $150,000 per year. [Florida Governor's Office]