Sylvia's soul food deal simmers as a party gets cooking today

All appears to be quiet at the site of the Manhattan Casino, the future home of Sylvia's Queen of Soul Food Restaurant.

But if everything goes as planned, construction is on the horizon.

According to Larry Newsome, president of Urban Development Solutions, the closing of the agreement is scheduled for next month.

Construction at the historic site at 642 22nd St. S could begin as soon as December and as late as February.

Newsome is working out the specifics of the proposed agreement, which is a lease of the city-owned property. That 50-year agreement limits the city's financial commitment to $300,000.

"When you have as many people involved in a project of this size, it takes a while longer to complete," Newsome said.

Newsome's team is working on shoring up financing and expects the project to move forward quickly thereafter. The timeline is on schedule for the restaurant to open next spring.

But elsewhere in the neighborhood, there is cause for celebration.

Today, a rebirth event, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, will be held at 951 22nd St. S as the Deuces Live business group celebrates new business coming to the community.

The event is significant, Elihu Brayboy says, because it means businesses are returning to a community that had been stripped to its commercial core.

In its heyday, 22nd Street S was "the downtown" of the communities of Midtown. But in the 1970s, Interstate 275 was built through the core of the business district.

Much of today's celebration will revolve around the building owned by Brayboy. The two-story, 10,000-square-foot historic building is next to the historic Royal Theater. That facility is scheduled to be renovated and will house business and training operations for Pipo's Cuban cafe, and should be ready for occupancy early next year.

Mayor Bill Foster and members of the City Council will be on hand for the event, as will business owners who are planning on moving to the area.

The event, sponsored by Florida Main Street, the city of St. Petersburg and Deuces Live Inc., starts at 5:45 p.m.

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One of the more popular events on tap this week is "Through Our Eyes: Midtown and Beyond."

The exhibit, which opens at 5 p.m. Friday at the Studio@620, features projects from students at Melrose Elementary, John Hopkins Middle and Lakewood High schools.

The exhibit tells students' stories of the people, places and things in their neighborhoods through photography and writing.

A new twist for the 11-year-old showcase is that some of the projects will include multimedia reports. For many students, it's the first time their works have been featured anywhere.

In addition to the exhibit, the event features a Taste of Midtown. That event, which features food from neighborhood restaurants, will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The Studio@620 is at 620 First Ave. S.

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Neighborly Care Network wants senior citizens in Pinellas County to join one of 10 senior dining sites. The facilities offer hot, nutritious midday meals, as well as a place for seniors to socialize and participate in activities.

Seniors must be 60 or older and live in the county. Registration is required. To register and get locations, call (727) 573-9444. Free transportation is provided.

Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at sgadsden@tampabay.com or at (727) 893-8874 and on Twitter at StPeteSandi.

Sylvia's soul food deal simmers as a party gets cooking today 10/16/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 6:06pm]

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