Fourth street Chick-fil-A redo Puts orders on hold
It's going to be an even longer, hotter summer for fans of a certain kind of chicken.
The Chick-fil-A at 4241 Fourth St. N will be closed for renovations from Tuesday until early July. The 15-year-old restaurant will be reduced to its concrete slab and studs, according to owner David Neely.
The remake will cost $500,000 to $600,000 but is expected to boost annual sales by $1 million, he said.
"There will be a better layout that will improve the guest experience," he said. Two employees using iPads will ask for drive-through orders outside the restaurant.
The decor will be more sleek, Neely said. The playground will be about the same.
The Fourth Street Chick-fil-A does more than $4 million in annual sales and serves 1,600 customers a day. It plans to hire 30 employees when it reopens.
Seabird haven founder is sued
For the past few years, Ralph Heath, founder of the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, seems to have stumbled from one crisis to another.
Now a Virginia resident, Frank C. Kelley, is suing Heath, the sanctuary and an unknown person over a car. Kelley is alleging that Heath agreed to sell him a 1963 Corvette for $75,000. Kelley says he paid Heath $15,000 as down payment and Heath has since refused to sell him the vehicle.
Heath said Tuesday that he had asked someone to market the car. But Heath said he had nothing to do with the alleged sale.
"The only thing I did was to show him the car and that was it," Heath said.
Heath declined to name the person marketing the car.
Heath, 68, a zoologist, founded the sanctuary at 18328 Gulf Blvd. in Indian Shores in 1971. He boasted that it became the largest nonprofit wild bird sanctuary in the United States.
But in recent years, financial hardships have taken their toll. In 2012, the IRS filed three liens totaling about $187,726 against the sanctuary for unpaid employment taxes. The next year, the IRS filed another lien for about $2,034 and the state Department of Revenue filed one of about $7,684 for unpaid taxes.
Last month, state fish and wildlife officials cited Heath with dozens of violations stemming from the organization's handling of animals.
Special taxing district created
St. Petersburg officials got some welcome news on Tuesday when Pinellas County commissioners approved the city's plan for a new special taxing district.
The Southside Community Redevelopment Area will encompass a little more than 7 square miles that includes the Midtown and Childs Park neighborhoods.
The city now plans four to six months of public outreach, leading to a final redevelopment plan that will be sent back to the county.
Once that is in place, the city will be able to use tax revenue generated in that district for improvement projects in the same area.
Times gets rezoning request
County officials agreed on Tuesday to rezone a sliver of land owned by the Times Publishing Co., which publishes the Tampa Bay Times.
The Times had asked the city and county to change the allowed use of about 6 acres of its 34-acre printing plant property on 34th Street N from industrial to mixed use. The city gave its approval in April.
The change will allow broader types of redevelopment on the site, which is currently vacant and includes a parking lot, and would make it more attractive to potential buyers.
No plans have been proposed for the site.
Staff writers Katherine Snow Smith, Anne Lindberg, Mike Brassfield and Kameel Stanley contributed to this report.