Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Business

Shops at St. Pete lineup not quite in the bag

ST. PETERSBURG — The eagerly awaited lineup of stores and restaurants at the Shops at St. Pete may not be unveiled for months, but for now there is confusion surrounding the downtown retail complex.

Joe Jiminez, managing director of the Edwards Group, told the City Council in September that three restaurants would be revealed by the end of 2012 and three retail anchors would be named by the end of January.

Then last week, Bill Edwards, who owns the former BayWalk and is investing $30 million in its rebirth, said he isn't naming tenants until most of them are signed.

But on Tuesday, Faith Hope Consolo, the powerful New York retail real estate agent Edwards recruited to help fill the Shops, said in an e-mail to the Tampa Bay Times that there are several updates to share. She listed a string of stores including Island Company, a West Palm Beach-based resort wear chain with a handful of stores in tony locations such as Nantucket and Palm Beach.

Denise Costantino, vice president of Island Company, was floored Tuesday when she was asked about the plans to open a store in St. Petersburg. "I find that very strange. We had one conversation with someone yesterday. It was the first conversation we had," she said. "We are not considering it at this time."

When Edwards was asked to clear up the confusion, he said he had nothing more to say about tenants at the Shops at St. Pete. He stressed that he had already said he didn't want to disclose tenants until most or all contracts were signed. He was frustrated that word was getting out about potential deals and contracts, and said it wasn't good for his business.

"I'm trying to do something. I probably should have knocked (it) down and built condominiums. That would have been the smart move," he said. "I'm trying to produce something for the city of St. Petersburg that it doesn't have. It takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work."

The Edwards Group is a private business and the Shops receives no public funding. The parking garage for the Shops is owned by the city, and Edwards was granted parking agreements for employees and customers that he said were vital to signing tenants.

Consolo could not be reached for comment to clarify the situation with Island Company. Some of the other tenants she listed in her e-mail include two Iron Chef restaurants; Soma, a women's lingerie and swimwear store owned by Chico's; and Luxottica, parent company of Sunglass Hut, LensCrafters, and Ilori high-end eye wear.

"At this time we don't really have any further information to share," said Emily Ryan, a Luxottica representative, when asked if the company was opening a store in St. Petersburg.

Consolo said the Shops is in negotiations with J Crew, a luxury day spa, a fragrance boutique and St. Petersburg's J. Con Salon and Spa. Neither Joe Connell, owner of J. Con, or representatives of Chico's could be reached for comment.

The Shops is scheduled to open the first quarter of 2014. Edwards bought the long-struggling property in September 2011 for $5.2 million. He first thought he would announce a lineup of tenants in July 2012, then was scheduled to present his plan for a redesigned center and name anchor tenants at an August City Council meeting. In August, he said the announcement would be in September. September brought the parking agreement with the city and the promise of an announcement of tenants in 30 to 60 days.

Edwards said his time frame has changed but not his plan to create something significant for downtown that will be a big boost for the city.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

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