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Charlie Frago, Times Staff Writer

Charlie Frago

Charlie Frago covers St. Petersburg for the Tampa Bay Times. Previously, Frago covered Clearwater for the newspaper. He has also worked for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina and the City News Bureau of Chicago. In 2011-12, Frago was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He joined the Times in May 2013.

Phone: (727) 893-8459

E-mail: cfrago@tampabay.com

Twitter: @CharlieFrago

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  1. Kriseman warns new tourist tax formula could hamper upgrades to city sports facilities

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Overhauls of Al Lang Stadium and the Walter Fuller Baseball Complex might not get as much tourist tax money as St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman wants if the Pinellas County Commission adopts a measure approved Wednesday by the Tourist Development Council.

    The council voted to recommend that the nearly $7 million a year now used to pay off the main construction bonds on Tropicana Field be restricted when they expire in 2015. Under a new formula for disbursing the money, the TDC would allow either $4.5 million for new capital projects or the proceeds from three-fourths of a cent — whichever amount is greater. ...

  2. Plan advances to protect Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

    Wildlife

    ST. PETERSBURG — A big chunk of habitat for rare plants and animals within Boyd Hill Nature Preserve took a step toward permanent preservation status on Tuesday.

    The city's Community Planning and Preservation Commission signed off on a land-use change to further protect an area of the city recently eyed by developers.

    "We have here in the city a beautiful pocket of natural Old Florida. There's not much of it left," Boyd Hill preservationist Pat Lambert said at a public hearing held by the commission. ...

    A swallowtail lands on pentas in the butterfly garden at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Petersburg.
  3. Lantmannen Unibake looks to expand its St. Petersburg footprint

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman is using at least $600,000 in incentives to woo a Danish food processing company thinking about expanding its footprint in the city, according to city documents.

    Lantmannen Unibake, located at 1927 Fourth Ave. S, wants to build a stand-alone baking facility for pastries, which currently are only made at the company's European bakeries.

    The bakery would produce a lot of pastry: either 2,000 or 4,000 pounds an hour, said Carlos Hernandez, the company's USA director of operations....

  4. St. Petersburg public shows interest in only small changes to waterfront

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Anyone hoping for a radical makeover on the city's waterfront likely left disappointed from a public meeting held Thursday at the Vinoy Renaissance resort.

    As consultants wrapped up the public input portion on the master plan for nearly 7 miles of Tampa Bay shoreline between Coffee Pot Bayou and Lassing Park, they didn't unveil any grand plans for notable landmarks such as Albert Whitted Airport, Al Lang Stadium or the port....

  5. Officials: St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay Rays near deal to allow Hillsborough stadium search

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and the Tampa Bay Rays are nearing an agreement granting the team's long-standing wish to explore new stadium sites in Hillsborough County, people who have talked recently to the mayor say.

    Kriseman "would like to get it done within the next month but definitely before Christmas'' so he can bring it to the City Council for approval, Council Chairman Bill Dudley said last week....

    The Rays are seeking the city's approval to seek a new site for a stadium so they can move out of Tropicana Field. --  Photo by JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times
  6. St. Petersburg's arts funding year-by-year for now

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — A discussion about arts funding during this week's City Council meeting revealed two related questions, one symbolic and one practical.

    How serious is St. Petersburg about being an arts mecca? And how long of a financial commitment would prove it?

    Council member Charlie Gerdes' idea, already approved by his colleagues at a committee meeting last month, was to funnel $200,000 for five years from the Weeki Wachee Fund....

    “I don’t like cannibal-izing a very successful endowment. We need to come up with a sustainable funding source.”
Jim Kennedy,
council member
  7. St. Pete council member seeks more oversight of big apartment complexes

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG— Roaches in the refrigerator. Mold on the carpet and in the closets. Peeling paint on balconies and storage areas.

    Some residents at Bay Point Villas, a 136-unit complex in the Greater Pinellas Point neighborhood, say they've had enough of the dicey conditions in their aging 1970s-era apartments.

    City Council member Steve Kornell wants the city to step in and force the Maryland-based owner to make improvements....

  8. City Council delays water tank next to Eckerd College

    Blog

     

    St. Petersburg--The City Council delayed a proposed 15 million gallon water storage tank near Eckerd College Thursday, pleasing college officials. 

    The tank would store reclaimed water that didn't meet quality standards and is needed to comply with state regulations, city officials say. ...

  9. Bliss condo tower delayed for ordinance tweak

    Blog

     

    St. Petersburg---After several hours of debate and dozens of speakers, the City Council decided to delay a decision on the Bliss condo tower project until the city can tweak its parking garage ordinance. 

    Two attorneys on the council ---Charlie Gerdes and Jim Kennedy--voiced concerns that the language of the city ordinance could pose problems in court because it appears to limit the types of garages to categories that don't include a car elevator---which developer Brian Taub plans to use in his 18-story tower wedged on a narrow sliver of land at Fourth Avenue NE, just off Beach Drive. ...

  10. Eckerd College wants city to downsize water tank near campus

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — Afraid that the first glimpse of Eckerd College by potential students exiting Interstate 275 will be framed by water tanks, school officials have asked the city to shrink its plans for a 15 million-gallon storage tank next to campus.

    They've also asked the city for the second time to delay approval of a $3 million contract to build the tank.

    But city officials say they have addressed Eckerd's concerns and plan to ask City Council to sign off on the project at today's meeting....

  11. GOP focus on three bay area state House seats pays dividends

    Elections

    Republicans targeted three Tampa Bay Democratic incumbents in an attempt to establish a veto-proof majority in the Florida House: St. Petersburg's Dwight Dudley, Tampa's Mark Danish and Carl Zimmermann of Palm Harbor.

    On Tuesday, only Dudley held on to his House District 68 seat. He also was the lone Democrat among three candidates to keep pace with his Republican opponent in fundraising. ...

  12. Salvador tower won't be built with pile drivers

    Blog

     

    ST. PETERSBURG ----Downtown residents wearied by months of pile-driving for an apartment tower on 3rd Street South near Publix are fearful another tower slated to be built nearby will also use the noisy construction method. 

    Relax, say city officials. The Salvador, a planned 13-story, 74-unit residential tower at the corner of  Dali Boulevard S and 2nd Street South won't use pile drivers. ...

  13. St. Pete fire chief cleared of wrongdoing in hire

    Blog

     

    St. Petersburg---A city investigation into the hiring of a Fire Department rescue chief earlier this year has cleared Chief Jim Large of any wrongdoing. 

    The Oct. 15 report states that an initial probe in September had wrongly concluded that Large had made missteps when he hired then-Capt. Ian Womack in April.  ...

  14. City says homeless report blasting St. Pete is yesterday's news

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG-- On the heels of a glowing write-up in the Boston Globe--- the latest in a string of national and international kudos touting St. Petersburg--- comes a spotlight that backdrops the city in a markedly different hue. 

    A report presented to the United Nations characterizes the city's treatment of the homeless as a criminal travesty. ...

  15. Consultants to St. Pete leaders: Moment is now for the waterfront

    Local

    ST. PETERSBURG — All the recent national buzz has presented the city with a make-or-break moment on its waterfront, a consultant told city leaders Thursday.

    But the image of a city on the move could be stalled if the fractured, underutilized 7-mile stretch between Coffee Pot Bayou and Lassing Park isn't fixed.

    "The ceiling is enormously high," said Pete Sechler, who presented the initial findings of AECOM, the global consulting firm hired by the city to craft a master plan. "But you're either getting better or getting worse."...