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Tortuga Pointe Apartments, new businesses rise on Gandy Boulevard

This wide view of the Pinellas side of Gandy Boulevard shows progress on the 16-acre Tortuga Pointe Apartments. The photo was made on an iPhone using Autostitch.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

This wide view of the Pinellas side of Gandy Boulevard shows progress on the 16-acre Tortuga Pointe Apartments. The photo was made on an iPhone using Autostitch.

ST. PETERSBURG — As another gated community rises on Gandy Boulevard, businesses are expanding their offerings to meet demand.

It's a turnabout for one such business owner.

Not long ago, Jim Kenrick was feeling hemmed in by Tortuga Pointe Apartments. His longtime business, Kahuna's restaurant, 10515 Gandy Blvd., was boxed in on three sides by the 16-acre, $42 million development. The owner worried about losing parking spaces, about the new residents being bothered by the music and other noise from his tiki-themed restaurant, and about traffic congestion.

The Zaremba Group, an Ohio developer, has since agreed to build a path to Kahuna's through one of the development's landscaped borders. Kenrick is now putting the finishing touches on JJ's Market and Delicatessen, next door to Kahuna's, which he hopes will benefit from Tortuga's 295 rental units. Kenrick had tried initially to rent the 2,200-square-foot space he built.

Kenrick plans to offer breakfast and lunch and a selection of beer and wine in time for the development's opening.

"I was forced to change," Kenrick said. "My surroundings changed without my control."

Others are adapting, too.

Down the road, Brian Storman opened I.C. Sharks Seafood Market at 13040 Gandy Blvd. a few months ago. The business, also a bait and tackle shop, is soaking up business in the absence of Trappman's Market, which went out of business more than a year ago after a fire badly damaged the property.

But Storman has another vision. He's working on a 10-seat cafe and oyster bar behind his shop, adding a wood deck, lime rock decor and palm trees. He also has drawn up colorful renderings for a larger "tiki pavilion" to house a restaurant where a parking lot now exists. His waterfront property, at the edge of Gandy Beach, includes the Banana Boat bar, which he plans to revamp.

Storman is encouraged by city and state plans to spruce up local roads, including adding bicycle and pedestrian paths.

Next to the Derby Lane dog track, Vegas Spirits Liquor and Fine Wines is going in at 10570 Gandy Blvd. It is owned by the same company that owns and operates Vegas Show Girls strip club.

Tortuga Pointe, scheduled to open in the spring, is described by the developer as "lush in style and rich in conveniences as well as comforts." It is said to be built to mimic Rosemary Beach, a self-styled "urban village" development near Destin, in the Florida Panhandle. With studio apartments starting at $875, the developer says the amenities at Tortuga Pointe will outrank anything in the area. Property manager Barbara Favreau would not disclose how many leases have been signed.

In recent years, a half-dozen other gated developments, from Brighton Bay, Grande Verandah and Mangrove Cay to Vantage Point, have also sprouted on the city's northern edge. Still, challenges remain for the area. Just a few years ago it was eyed by developers who later pulled out as the economy tanked.

At San Martin Village shopping complex, built by local developer Clark East a few years ago, half the storefronts remain empty. A sign for a new business, Rays' N Bread, remains, but plans have fallen apart.

Veterinarian Donna Shannon, one of the few tenants there, owns the Cat Hospital, which offers medical services, boarding and grooming for felines at 10730 Gandy Blvd. Shannon is waiting for a new boom, too.

"The location is great," she said. "Everybody in the Tampa Bay area knows where we are."

Still, her parking lot is often barren.

"It's still such a struggle," said Shannon, who said she plans to stick it out.

Luis Perez can be reached at (727) 892-2271 or lperez@sptimes.com.

Tortuga Pointe Apartments, new businesses rise on Gandy Boulevard 12/12/09 [Last modified: Friday, December 11, 2009 5:09pm]
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