ST. PETE BEACH
There is a new green market coming to town, but not everyone is happy about it.
Inspired by the hugely successful Saturday Morning Market in downtown St. Petersburg, the Corey Sunday Market would be the area's first "European style" green market, with prepared food, produce and flowers mixed in with arts and crafts stalls. It debuts Sunday.
Proponents of the new venue, which was largely organized by the nonprofit Suntan Art Center, say the market would add a fresh twist on the art market concept, potentially pulling in more local and tourist traffic.
But opponents, who include the owners of the popular Beverly's La Croisette Restaurant and the Beach Theatre, fear there is not enough parking in town for the new venue.
"I am 100 percent against it," said Beverly Pedaggi, owner of La Croisette Restaurant. Pedaggi organized a letter drive against the market, which she said included 70 letters from her patrons and surrounding business owners.
Pedaggi said her biggest business day is Sunday, and that her weekend crowds number 700 people or more. Parking is hard enough already, she said.
But 17 other businesses near the new market are in favor of it, and agreed to share their parking with the new market. Along with the city, the market has the blessing of the Corey Area Business Association and the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce.
Terry Denson, board president of the Suntan Art Center, said the new market could coexist with existing businesses, sharing in the bounty of new visitors.
David Cellon, who ran the downtown Saturday Morning Market in St. Petersburg for three years and more recently managed the Wednesday Midday Market in Williams Park, is organizing the new market. The Wednesday event shut down earlier this year after too few food vendors were willing to participate. It also faced criticism that it was competing with local restaurants.
But Cellon said that would not happen in St. Pete Beach.
"We will have lots of produce and some food, but we don't want to compete with the restaurants on Corey Avenue," Cellon said. There will be 50 vendors, with about 75 percent dedicated to arts. Cellon said he is preparing for 500 visitors.
The City Commission vote to sponsor the event passed by a narrow 3-2 vote. The vote gave the market a three-month trial.
City Commissioner Al Halpern, who represents the area, voted yes, but said he felt for Pedaggi.
"We at the beach here are struggling to support our tourism," he said.
Luis Perez can be reached at (727) 892-221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.