Group helps promote merchants
Locally owned restaurants, spas and shops are teaming up in Palma Ceia to create the area's first merchant group.
The Palma Ceia Business and Design District aims to create a commercial district reminiscent of other cities' downtown areas by collaborating on improvements.
More than 50 businesses belong to the group, which hopes to increase commerce through cooperation and shared marketing. They also aim to improve the neighborhood and make the district a shopping destination. A fountain and two sculptures have been donated to the district as part of this continued goal.
"The idea is to create a destination location," said district president Sheila Awad.
Awad and the district's marketing head, Jennifer Davidson, started the group about nine months ago. Both Palma Ceia business owners, they wanted to call attention to the quality of service and one-of-a-kind products they say are offered by the local shops.
"People want unique artistic treasures. You're not going to get that at the mall," said Davidson.
The district includes retailers on MacDill Avenue between Neptune Street and Wallcraft Avenue, and Bay to Bay Boulevard from Bayshore Boulevard to Dale Mabry, and celebrates its grand opening celebration Sunday.
Most retailers in the district will be open; shuttle service, live music and refreshments will be provided for shoppers. Call (813) 293-3823 for more information.
Residents oppose alcohol zoning
Neighbors wielding pens spelled the end of an Ybor City wet zoning application. The Tampa City Council received 22 letters from residents and business owners opposed to another nightclub on Seventh Avenue.
Owners of a vacant nightclub building at 1625 E Seventh Ave. — formerly Club Shine — had asked that its alcohol zoning be reinstated. But the application drew criticism from the Historic Ybor Neighborhood Civic Association, as it ran contrary to members' goal of having a mixed-use area that increases daytime business.
Neighbors are not opposed to nightclubs on Seventh, but they say they want to see more diversity on the street. Large clubs are only open at night three or four nights a week, leaving large blocks of real estate closed during the day, which affects foot traffic, said association president Tony LaColla.
"I hope this is a sign of change in Ybor City," he said.