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

link
  1. City Council wants to weigh in on mayor's hires — with impunity

    Local

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman hasn't named a new police chief yet, but his search process has prompted an unforeseen result: a council attempt to change the city charter.

    Irked by what they called "heavy-handed" rhetoric by City Attorney John Wolfe, the City Council moved forward Thursday with plans to draft a plan to eliminate language in the city charter that would allow council members to be removed for weighing in on mayoral appointments....

  2. Electric fence near Gibbs High School zapped by City Council

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tibbetts Lumber Co. had been plundered by thieves so often that the company decided to erect a 10-foot-high electrified fence.

    That pretty much ended the wood swiping.

    A small problem: City code bans electrified fencing.

    So company officials asked the city Thursday to legalize the fence by changing its land development regulations. City planners agreed, and recommended allowing such fences only in industrial zones....

  3. Man falls into 25-foot hole at St. Petersburg construction site

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — A construction worker fell into a 25-foot hole on Wednesday morning while working at a city wastewater treatment facility at 92nd Avenue North and Third Street.

    St. Petersburg Fire Rescue officials used a rescue basket to retrieve the 57-year-old man, who was trapped for more than an hour, said Lt. Steven Lawrence.

    The man, whose identity was not released, suffered multiple fractures, Lawrence said. ...

  4. St. Petersburg says they can't afford 'living wage' raise for workers

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city's response Friday to union requests for raising the base pay to a $15 an hour "living wage" for more than 300 city workers was succinct: Not this year.

    The city instead offered a 2 percent raise to city union workers, which will cost about $915,000, said Kristen Mory, the city's labor relations and compensation manager. After the meeting, she said that amount was all the city can afford....

  5. City seeks common ground with northeast St. Pete farmers market

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Last fall, a struggling farmers market set up shop on property owned by Dr. David McKalip, a neurosurgeon and outspoken critic of city government.

    City zoning and planning officials weren't thrilled. Fearing parking problems, they requested detailed plans from the Founders Corner Fresh Market, a fledgling endeavor that offers goods like honey, vegetables and crafts on the southwest corner of Fourth Street and 62nd Avenue N....

  6. Hotel, condos coming to prime block in downtown St. Petersburg

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — In April, Bill Edwards bought the Tropicana block for $12 million, sparking speculation about what the mogul planned for the rare block of nearly vacant land in the heart of downtown with almost unlimited potential.

    On Wednesday, he answered that question with an announcement that he was selling it to the Kolter Group, a Palm Beach County investment firm that plans to build a hotel and condos in two towers. The mixed-use project would include ground-floor retail....

    Businessman Bill Edwards bought the block for 
$12 million in April. He is to close the sale next month.
  7. St. Petersburg explores buying portion of Rahall Estate for park

    Local Government

    The St. Petersburg City Council unanimously voted at its June 19 meeting to authorize the city staff to make an "inquiry" into acquiring a 1.75-acre parcel of the Rahall Estate in southwestern St. Petersburg.

    Council member Steve Kornell tried unsuccessfully this month to persuade his colleagues to spend $3.4 million to buy the 4.6 acre property complete with a 10,000-square-foot mansion at 4251 42nd Ave S. The home in the Broadwater area was acquired 55 years ago by Sam Rahall, founder of Rahall Communications....

  8. Tampa and St. Petersburg mayors say cities' futures are linked

    Mass Transit

    ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn have known each other since the early 1990s, bonding over policy discussions at the Democratic Leadership Council, a Bill Clinton-era bastion of the moderate, probusiness side of the party.

    Buckhorn was an assistant to then-Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman. Kriseman hadn't been elected to anything yet.

    "We sort of adopted him," Buckhorn said, shortly before appearing with Kriseman and other Pinellas County mayors at a Greenlight Pinellas forum Tuesday. "His career has been great to watch."...

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman listens as Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn introduces himself and talks about friendship between the mayors and how cooperation strengthens the community.
  9. City officials consider spending millions of dollars for Tropicana Field roof repairs

    Economic Development

    ST. PETERSBURG

    The Tampa Bay Rays have made it clear that they don't see a long-term future for the team at Tropicana Field.

    Yet that hasn't hampered discussions among city officials who are thinking about asking the county for millions of dollars to repair the dome's aging roof.

    "The Rays are going to be in Tropicana for a while. We have to keep it maintained and we have to keep it safe," said Kevin King, chief of staff for Mayor Rick Kriseman. ...

    "The Rays are going to be in Tropicana for awhile,'' said Kevin King, chief of staff for St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman. "We've to keep it maintained and we have to keep it safe.''   
[Times files (2011)]
  10. St. Petersburg loosens rules for food trucks

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Food trucks will have an easier time peddling their cuisine as the City Council loosened up regulations regarding the mobile kitchens Thursday.

    The city has debated how to accommodate the growing demand for food trucks since 2011. A booming national trend, including Tampa, has been hampered in the city because of its burdensome regulations, food truck operators and advocates say....

  11. Business incubator planned near downtown St. Petersburg

    Economic Development

    ST. PETERSBURG — A nonprofit organization that nurtures technology startups has gained initial city approval to build a business incubator south of downtown.

    The Tampa Bay Innovation Center can now start raising money to build a 40,000-square-foot center to house medical and marine science entrepreneurs on the city-owned 2.5-acre site at Fourth Street and 11th Avenue S.

    The $9 million project will deliver on the city's promise to stimulate the tech sector, council member Darden Rice said. ...

  12. Arts advocates ask for more support in St. Petersburg's final budget preview

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — In less than two weeks, Mayor Rick Kriseman will submit his first budget to the City Council.

    On Wednesday, residents had their final chance to offer their own suggestions about the way the city spends its money.

    The majority of the few dozen speakers came to talk about funding for the arts.

    "It is vitally important this economic force be nurtured and supported by the city government," said Bruce Cook, president of St. Petersburg City Theatre Inc. ...

  13. Childs Park forum discusses bus service under Greenlight Pinellas

    Mass Transit

    ST. PETERSBURG — A neighborhood forum on the Greenlight Pinellas initiative Tuesday — organized to offer information to the undecided — was packed with advocates for the transit plan as well as opponents of the $2.2 billion proposal.

    Still, although relatively few in the crowd of about four dozen at the Childs Park Recreation Center appeared uninformed about Greenlight's broad contours, many wanted to know details of how the plan would benefit the city's southern neighborhoods....

  14. Fenway Hotel bought by Tai Chi nonprofit for $2.8 million

    Real Estate

    DUNEDIN — The tangled saga of the historic Fenway Hotel opened a new chapter Friday as the Taoist Tai Chi Society of the United States of America announced its purchase of the iconic property for $2.8 million.

    The long-shuttered hotel on the 6.4-acre parcel at 453 Edgewater Drive, along the Intracoastal Waterway, dates back to the 1920s.

    "It's a jewel," said Sean Dennison, the society's executive director. "It fits our needs and functions in an important way."...

    The Fenway Hotel will not be razed for new development after a nonprofit paid $2.8 million to use it as its headquarters.
  15. Capitol Theatre rakes in cash, raises hopes for downtown Clearwater

    Growth

    CLEARWATER — The first financial report is in, and the numbers look good for the Capitol Theatre, downtown's latest, greatest hope.

    Whether the successful beginning for the 750-seat venue will spark a wider downtown revival remains an open question.

    After expenses, the theater raked in $170,426, more than $122,000 over internal projections, according to a recent report from Ruth Eckerd Hall, which operates the Capitol....

    A 1933 Rolls-Royce Sedanca de Ville, a nod to Jay Leno, is parked in front of the Capitol Theatre in February.