Katherine Snow Smith, Times Staff Writer

Katherine Snow Smith

Katherine Snow Smith has been at the Times either fulltime or parttime since 1995. She started as a business reporter then spent a decade writing the Rookie Mom column with stories from her own family and advice from other average moms and the experts. She now covers business in south Pinellas County. Katherine has a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina and is married to Times political editor Adam Smith. They have three children, two dogs and still feel like rookie parents much of the time.

Phone: (727) 893-8785

Email: kssmith@tampabay.com

  1. Bill Edwards buys prime downtown St. Petersburg block

    Economic Development

    ST. PETERSBURG — Bill Edwards strikes again. He's just bought an entire downtown city block with virtually unlimited development options for $12 million.

    It's known as the Tropicana block because of the four-story, pink Tropicana office building at 25 Second St. N that sits at the north end of the property. The site has been owned by Miami investors since 2001. After moving the small businesses that occupied the building out in 2012, Tropicana Redevelopment has planned to raze the 41,000-square-foot, century-year-old structure to make way for a hotel with condos and retail....

    The property is known as the Tropicana block because of the pink Tropicana office building.
  2. Sundial has 7 confirmed tenants; who else might land in St. Pete?



    While there has been barely a word out of Sundial owner Bill Edwards, seven tenants of the soon-to-reopen shopping center have been confirmed by the retailers themselves. So far, the lineup brings some intriguing new names for St. Petersburg shoppers who too often feel like the country cousins who have to cross a bridge to reach the higher-end offerings in Tampa.

    The list includes Ruth's Chris Steak House, Sea Salt, Marilyn Monroe Spa, Tracy Negoshian, Diamonds Direct, Chico's and White House Black Market....

    Seven tenants have been confirmed for Sundial, offering fine dining, fine clothing and jewels. Might Lululemon or even Eataly land here?
  3. St. Petersburg's Sundial lands a retail coup with Tracy Negoshian store


    ST. PETERSBURG — With a 4-month-old store surpassing expectations in Naples, Tracy Negoshian is opening a second location in Sundial.

    The local designer's brightly colored clothes woo the same fans of Lilly Pulitzer and Trina Turk, but cost half or a third as much.

    "I am beyond thrilled to open a flagship store in our headquartered city,'' Negoshian said. "Sundial is a first class establishment and the attention to detail that went into this development holds true to our brand image.''...

  4. Median for Bay Pines Walmart cuts off flow to shops


    SEMINOLE — Ivy Lippard and her husband used $20,000 from their retirement fund to open Cake Affection bakery and counted on steady traffic from the new Walmart across the street and families from Keswick Christian School stopping in after school to grab a cupcake.

    Now a median that went up recently makes it difficult for either customer base to get to the store at 4691 100th Way N....

    A Pinellas traffic engineer said the median on 100th Way N, across from Bay Pines VA Medical Center, will not have a cut-out because of concern about “the conflicts” a break would create.
  5. St. Petersburg businesses news and notes



    Vinoy Renaissance has new GM from Miami

    Barbara Lippert Readey is the new general manager of the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. She fills the vacancy left by Russ Bond, who held the post for 14 years, but moved to an Arizona Marriott in December. Lippert most recently was general manager of the Marriott Biscayne Bay in Miami. She has held 15 management positions with Marriott, including serving seven years at the company's headquarters. ...

  6. Fine diamonds, seafood in the mix for St. Petersburg's Sundial


    ST. PETERSBURG — A Naples seafood restaurant that has received national praise from Gourmet magazine and beyond is opening in the Sundial complex along with Diamonds Direct, a St. Petersburg mainstay since 1984.

    Chef Fabrizio Aielli and his wife, Ingrid, were stars of the Washington, D.C., restaurant scene before moving to Naples and opening Sea Salt on posh Third Street in 2008. Now they will bring their flair for fresh food with a twist to the shopping center formerly known as BayWalk....

  7. Meet creators of Switch Flops, Infinity Headbands on Saturday


    MADEIRA BEACH — Shoppers at the Bronze Lady in John's Pass Village can meet Lindsay Phillips, the creator of Switch Flops, from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at 12957 Village Blvd.

    The Clearwater native invented the shoes with changeable straps and adornments as a high school art project, and now the patented concept sells around the country.

    Another inventor who will be on hand is 12-year-old Brylee Beckerman. The St. Petersburg girl came up with the idea for a headband with interchangeable covers and charms several years ago, and now Infinity Headbands sell in 30 stores....

  8. Is Winn-Dixie destined to take over empty Sweetbays?


    Midtown is enjoying the arrival of a Walmart where a Sweetbay was, but four other south Pinellas shopping centers are still waiting to fill the void a year after the grocery stores closed.

    There are empty stores on 66th Street in Kenneth City, on 49th Street in Pinellas Park and on Ninth Avenue N in St. Petersburg. These shopping centers have other grocery stores either right across the street or within a few blocks....

    The Sweetbay space in Skyway Plaza at 955 62nd Ave. S remains empty. The parent company of Winn-Dixie has said it will reopen some former Sweetbays as Winn-Dixies, but the company isn’t saying which ones.
  9. St. Pete's Sundial to get a Marilyn Monroe spa


    ST. PETERSBURG — Marilyn Monroe is coming back to St. Pete.

    This time she won't be here for spring training with Joe DiMaggio, but she will arrive in the form of a high end spa that carries her name.

    And guess where the blond bombshell is setting up camp? Sundial.

    The Marilyn Monroe Spa is the first confirmed new tenant for the long awaited retail plaza formerly known as Baywalk in downtown St. Petersburg....

  10. Condo tower set to rise in downtown St. Pete; critic plans appeal


    ST. PETERSBURG — Another high-rise residential project is in the works for downtown St. Petersburg. The city recently approved plans for a Mediterranean-style 16-story condominium tower with 72 homes on Fourth Avenue N.

    Two older two- and three--story apartment buildings, at 131 and 145 Fourth Ave. N, will be demolished to make way for the project.

    "We think there is a huge lack of supply based on the fact that nothing has been built in the last six years," said developer John Shine. He plans to call the project O N E, a nod to the nearby Historic Old Northeast neighborhood....

    O N E — a nod to the Old Northeast — is to replace two older apartment buildings on Fourth Avenue N. 
  11. Developer keeps Pinellas projects percolating

    Real Estate

    If there's a term equal to "one-armed paper hanger" or "chief cook and bottle washer" for the commercial development business, it would apply to Carlos Yepes. The head of Pinellas Park-based Belleair Development Group has nine projects in various stages going on in southern Pinellas County.

    From luxury condos on Snell Isle to a Wawa in Largo, the deep-pocketed Yepes has deals and buildings of all sizes percolating....

    “Eighty-five thousand cars go by ... every day,” Carlos Yepes says of his Wawa project on the southwest corner of Ulmerton and Starkey roads in Largo. The site opens this week.
  12. National Geographic doomsday prepper auctioning rock 'n' roll B&B

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Reality star Brent Bruns II gained fame preparing for doomsday. Now he's auctioning off his rock 'n' roll themed, nine-bedroom historic home to prepare for legalized medical marijuana.

    "I think the future is growing marijuana," said the local 42-year-old who starred with his family last year in Doomsday Castle, a spinoff of Doomsday Preppers.

    The auction of what he once hoped would be the Rock 'n' Roll Bed and Breakfast and its contents will take place March 23....

    Reality star Brent Bruns II had hoped to convert this home at 121 Fifth Ave. N in St. Petersburg into a rock ’n’ roll themed bed and breakfast. But now the house and its contents are going up for auction.
  13. Jo Jo's closes in downtown St. Pete; Don CeSar GM is honored



    Jo jo's is no more in progress plaza

    After 23 years as a downtown fixture, JoJo's In Citta Italian Restaurant in the Progress Plaza building has closed. Owner Antonio Condello and the landlord have been in a dispute for close to a year over the lease.

    Condello also owns Famous Pizza at 2810 34th St. N. He plans to add more of JoJo's menu items to that location in the short term. In the long term, JoJo's will return, Condello says....

    The owner of JoJo’s In Citta hopes to reopen in another location by the end of the year.
  14. Former Basta's to become Mexican restaurant


    ST. PETERSBURG — Five years after the revered Italian restaurant Basta's closed a Mexican restaurant is opening in its place.

    Come April, expect a very different look and feel at El Gallo Grande. Translation: The big rooster.

    Phil Farley, the man who turned an aging public housing complex into the hip Urban Style Flats, is a part owner in the new business at 1625 Fourth St. S. He regularly drove past the former Basta's on his way home and ultimately decided it was time to revive it. He recruited two other partners, Carlina and Javier Sarabia, to make El Gallo Grande authentic....

    El Gallo Grande will have one area that’s light and bright where families can gather and another that’s more for adults. The owners vow to stick to authentic Mexican cuisine and will offer vegetarian options.
  15. Snack bag plus puppet equals Snuppet, a budding business



    The executives at Glad headquarters in Oakland, Calif., have no idea there's a 42-year-old mother of three in St. Petersburg who sits at her sewing machine dreaming of taking them down.

    Well, maybe not taking them down exactly, but she does want to win over their customers with her reusable snack bags that double as hand puppets. She calls them Snuppets and thinks the idea is promising enough she has had the name trademarked....

    Janie Allen in her home office in St. Petersburg with her children, from left, Gus, 5, Sabby, 12, and Whit, 9. Her Snuppets are reusable snack bags that double as hand puppets.