Sunday, January 21, 2018
Opinion

Here's hoping new plans revive the historic Kress building

When a district begins to thrive, it's not unusual to find a few spots that struggle to catch the wave.

Here in the Sunshine City, with the arts, new restaurants, an evolving craft beer market and new housing developments sprouting, it seems odd when other spaces appear to be trapped in a revolving door of failed ventures.

Such is the case with the historic Kress building at 475 Central Ave.

The beautiful Beaux Arts building, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, sits in a prominent location in the downtown district. The architectural gem was built in the 1920s by Samuel H. Kress, founder of the S.H. Kress chain of discount stores.

It has been home to a host of businesses in recent years: Pink Cricket Center for Arts Education, a nonprofit youth arts center; the Shah Abbas Rug Gallery; and, ever so briefly, Margarita Mama's and Banana Joe's.

New owner Samuel Boutros believes he's the one who will end the revolving door at the 39,000-square-foot building.

An undisclosed national retailer will be housed on part of the first floor.

And Times food critic Laura Reiley tells us that Soul, a new upscale soul food concept is in the works and should open this summer. The chef of the new restaurant is from the Atwater's Cafeteria family, which has strong roots in the city and also was a part of local fare offered at Tampa Bay Rays games.

But some smaller changes have already started.

An Internet-based community radio station moved in last week.

Rhinoonair.com, a 24-hour station, was originally housed at 637 Central Ave. It offers live shows that air from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, followed by rebroadcasts through the night.

It will take more than Soul and the radio station to bring a steady flow of traffic to that end of the Central Avenue block, but it's a good start.

• • •

And the Good 'Burger goes to …

In January, I made mention of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce's new program that replaced the more formal awards of previous years: the Good 'Burger Award.

The award honors a former Sunshine City mayor who referred to residents as "burgers," as in St. Petersburgers.

This year, volunteers nominated an impressive list of 70 for this year's honors.

Last week, awards were given out in seven categories:

Arts & Culture: The Mahaffey Theater

Eats & Treats: The Moon Under Water

Community Service & Non-Profits: SPCA Tampa Bay

Hot Spots & Hangouts: Saturday Morning Market

Sports: Tampa Bay Rays

Cool Companies – Large: All Children's Hospital/Johns Hopkins Medicine

Cool Companies – Small: Fit2Run

MVB – "Most Valuable Burger": Mindy Grossman, HSN Inc.

• • •

It seems that Pinellas is adding another fresh market — this time in Largo.

The Plaza at the Palms of Largo is hosting a fresh market that opens from noon to 4 p.m. today.

It joins the popular Saturday Morning Market, Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market and two markets on St. Pete Beach.

The market will feature fruits and vegetables, organic products, herbs and plants, gourmet foods, local honey and entertainment. For more information, call (727) 674-1107.

Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8874 and at @StPeteSandi on Twitter.

TO ADVERTISE: Contact Andi Gordon, (727) 893-8698 or [email protected]

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