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. Window closing for Tampa Bay Rays stadium in Carillon Business Park

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Amid much fanfare two years ago, developer Darryl LeClair unveiled bold plans for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium at Carillon Business Park in the Gateway area.

    It offered a St. Petersburg solution to the team's pleas for a new stadium, and it was about 15 minutes closer to Tampa than Tropicana Field.

    But no one from the Rays ever approached LeClair, who is close to giving up on his dream of building a mixed-use stadium, office and residential project on 16 acres he owns south of Ulmerton Road....

    The stadium, illustrated above, would be part of a Gateway-area development including apartments, retail, offices and a hotel.
  2. Haunted House no more: Allendale historic gem nears city landmark status

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — When Chris Wescott bought "the Castle" late last year, it was a wreck.

    Frogs thrived in a 13-foot-deep pool so dirty that Wescott couldn't see the bottom. An enormous hive of honeybees — with combs estimated to be decades old — occupied a second floor porch of the distinctive stone mission-style mansion on the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and Foster Hill Drive N....

    Chris Wescott bought the Chad Allen mansion for $346,000 and says he put in about $400,000 of restoration work.
  3. Nonprofit eyes vacant St. Petersburg school for homeless teen shelter

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — A Tampa nonprofit that works with homeless teens want to open a "minicampus" in north St. Petersburg, complete with boys and girls dormitories, a dining hall, offices and tutoring space.

    But the City Council, led by member Darden Rice, has put the brakes on the group's plan to lease an unused school building at 4600 Haines Road. Rice said the last-minute addition of a zoning change for the property on Thursday's meeting agenda took her by surprise....

  4. St. Petersburg council moves forward with charter change to allow members a say in high-level hires

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saying it was a small step to protect their free speech rights, the City Council unanimously approved a proposal Thursday to change the city charter to allow members to weigh in on high-level mayoral appointments without fear of being removed from office.

    The issue now goes to voters on Nov. 4.

    "You can't be the voice of the people if you can't talk," said council member Steve Kornell....

  5. New craft brewery planned near Tropicana Field

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG— A city review board approved plans Wednesday for a new craft brewery near Tropicana Field and the Pinellas Trail.

    The Development Review Commission unanimously signed off on Pinellas Ale Works' plans to convert a long-vacant building into a tasting room, beer garden and brewery capable of making 750 barrels a year.

    The site at 1962 First Ave. S is a block north of the trail and four blocks west of the Trop, a location co-founder Matthew Brown hopes will capture bicyclists and baseball fans....

    The site at 1962 First Ave. S in St. Petersburg is a block north of the trail and four blocks west  of the Trop, a location co-founder Matthew Brown hopes will capture bicyclists and baseball fans. [Google Street View]
  6. St. Petersburg looks to standardize the way it gives money to community groups, events

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman's administration is working to standardize the way the city doles out more than $1.5 million to festivals, parades, races, museums and other groups each year.

    Kriseman and City Council members have grappled with a long line of requests from arts organizations, unions and nonprofits seeking various kinds of financial help.

    Council member Amy Foster said she would like to see a clearly defined process created so that groups across the city know how to access available cash. She said she doesn't know how to explain to constituents how the system works. ...

  7. Electric Fence has political jolt in St. Petersburg

    Blog


    The electric fence around Tibbetts Lumber Co. has been unplugged for months. Politically, though, the lumberyard partially owned by powerful State Sen. Jeff Brandes is still buzzing.

    Last month, the St. Petersburg City Council twice nixed a plan to change city code to allow the juice to be turned back on for the 10-foot electric fence around the lumberyard at 3300 Fairfield Ave S.

    The fence was too near a sidewalk used by Gibbs High School students and other residents, several council members said....

  8. Downtown St. Petersburg about to become officially friendly to skateboards

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG— Many of the skateboarding enthusiasts who arrive at the Local Longboard Company on Central Avenue are breaking the law.

    They arrive via skateboard — which is illegal downtown. But it's so common that co-owner Travis Hise moved a sales rack near the door as a "parking area."

    Police officers rarely enforce the decades-old ban that prohibits skateboarding downtown. In fact, one officer, Hise said, told him that he wants to be first cop on a longboard — a type of skateboard that's usually bigger with wider, sturdier wheels. ...

    Friends Steven Belisle, 24, and Eva Manzo, 20, both of St. Petersburg, skate board home along North Shore Drive NE from North Shore Park in St. Petersburg on Thursday. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  9. Downtown St. Petersburg about to become officially friendly to skateboards

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG— Many of the skateboarding enthusiasts who arrive at the Local Longboard Company on Central Avenue are breaking the law.

    They arrive via skateboard, which is illegal downtown. But it's so common that co-owner Travis Hise moved a sales rack near the door as a "parking area."

    Police officers rarely enforce the decades-old ban that prohibits skateboarding downtown. In fact, one officer, Hise said, told him that he wants to be the first cop on a longboard — a type of skateboard that's usually bigger with wider, sturdier wheels. ...

    Friends Steven Belisle, 24, and Eva Manzo, 20, both of St. Petersburg, skate board home along North Shore Drive NE from North Shore Park in St. Petersburg on Thursday. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  10. St. Petersburg City Council eyes extra property tax cash

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — With nearly $1 million in unexpected revenue in next year's budget, the City Council is pushing for a say in how it's spent.

    Despite some pushback from city administrators, the council has scheduled a budget workshop next month to hash out competing demands for the money.

    "With nearly a million dollars of new revenue, the council should have a discussion about that. It just shouldn't be do what you want with the money," said council Vice Chairman Steve Kornell. "Council deserves a chance to be a part of it."...

  11. MLS in St. Petersburg? Much depends on Al Lang Field

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Orlando will have a Major League Soccer franchise next year. Miami has an inside track for one. And cities across the country, from Minneapolis to San Antonio to Las Vegas, are eyeing one.

    In the afterglow of a World Cup that captivated Americans, Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards is also considering capitalizing on the wave of soccer enthusiasm. He has entertained the possibility that his team — playing in the second-tier North American Soccer League — can move up to the big time. ...

    St. Petersburg businessman Bill Edwards announced he has purchased controlling interest in the North American Soccer League's Tampa Bay Rowdies during a press conference at the Mahaffey Theater Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013.
  12. Artistic lighting planned for Central Avenue in St. Petersburg

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A group of artists unveiled a plan Thursday to visually remake Central Avenue into an illuminated unifying symbol of the city.

    Employing lighted glass columns along the city's dividing thoroughfare would connect the sprawling avenue and encourage people to use the Central Avenue Trolley, said Carol Mickett of Mickett/Stackhouse Studio.

    The columns would also play as metaphor: concrete examples of Central's role as the city's spine, she said....

  13. St. Petersburg mayor wants to plump up reserves with $1 million

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city's reserves are poised to get a $1 million infusion in Mayor Rick Kriseman's proposed budget, the first replenishment in seven years.

    It's a sign of good economic times and would boost the city's various reserve funds to nearly $40 million.

    It also would help keep the city in good standing with credit-rating agencies, said Tom Greene, the city's budget director. That will be important when the city looks to borrow money to build a new police station or revamp the Pier....

  14. St. Petersburg City Council approves mayor's pick for city clerk

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council on Thursday unanimously approved Mayor Rick Kriseman's recommended pick to replace retiring City Clerk Eva Andujar.

    Praising Andujar's peformance, council members said they had high hopes for her successor, Chan Srinivasa.

    Andujar has served as clerk since 2001. She has worked for the city for 32 years.

    After the council's vote and its effusive praise of the mayor's pick, council member Karl Nurse asked Kriseman: "It's not so painful, is it?"...