ST. PETERSBURG—The vacant Universal Health Care building in the heart of downtown will remain empty longer than expected. Kevin Hirsch, the surgeon and developer who bid $10.5 million to buy the offices of the bankrupt insurance company, has backed out.
He initially envisioned filling the two-story office building, which has six floors of parking above, with retail. Whole Foods considered the site for about three weeks before deciding against it, Hirsch said. Then he started planning to add six more stories to the building and give it a dramatic new look....
MADEIRA BEACH — The Treasure Island & Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce has existed for a year, but Madeira Beach's recent endorsement of the fledgling organization has taken some by surprise and added to confusion over the group's role.
When the Treasure Island Chamber added Madeira Beach in July of last year, the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber got a letter from Madeira Beach stating that the beaches chamber was still that city's chamber of commerce. The bigger organization represents businesses from 11 Tampa Bay beach cities....
Don't count on celebrating the holidays with a bottle of Two Buck Chuck from the new Trader Joe's on Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg. The much-anticipated 12,000-square-foot store under construction between 28th and 27th avenues N won't open until next year. "Due to construction delays we are opening in 2015," said company spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki. She declined to specify what month the opening would occur. The developer of the project said in April that the store was expected to open by the end of this year. A 3,000-square-foot freestanding Vitamin Shoppe will join Trader Joe's on the property. — Katherine Snow Smith, Times staff writer...
ST. PETE BEACH — Masses of people came to the beach for the July 4 weekend, and with them came their trash.
The city of St. Pete Beach placed eight Dumpsters along the beach to handle the extra garbage. But by sunset Saturday, the blue bin in front of the Postcard Inn at 6300 Gulf Blvd. was overflowing, as were additional trash cans the resort had added.
Scattered across the beach were other pieces of trash, including plastic cups bearing the resort's logo, beer cans, broken coolers and straws....
A developer that recently bought the Tropicana block in downtown St. Petersburg paid $17.2 million, about $5 million more than local businessman Bill Edwards paid for it just two months earlier.
The escalation in price illustrates growing demand for large tracts of undeveloped land downtown. The transaction recently showed up in public records.
Kolter Group, a Palm Beach County investment firm, plans to build a hotel and condos in two towers on the property. The project would include ground-floor retail. It's expected to break ground in the early 2015 and be done by the end of 2017....
ST. PETERSBURG — A New York investor could change the face of Central Avenue's EDGE District with construction of a retail incubator, loft apartments and a large garden.
Jonathan Daou, who owns four retail spaces in New York's SoHo area, recently paid $1.7 million for about 1.5 acres west of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St., at 930 Central Ave. Other than a parking lot during Tampa Bay Rays games, the long-vacant land has been an eyesore and deterrent to pedestrian traffic. ...
06/27/14 Human Interest
The Pheil Hotel at 424 Central Ave. was once the place to go for the finest steak in town. An elegant meal, 95 cents for filet mignon or 85 cents for a whole Florida lobster, could be followed by a movie at the hotel's Pheil Theater. From their debut in 1924 they were hot spots on the city's busiest block for about three decades.
Now the former hotel and an adjacent building that was St. Petersburg's first bank sit vacant at the southwest corner of Fourth Street and Central Avenue, shrouded in metallic mesh. The giant cheese grater effect was added in the 1960s....
06/26/14 Real Estate
ST. PETERSBURG — A second buyer is waiting in the wings to purchase the historic YMCA building at 116 Fifth St. S, with renovation plans that include a spa, restaurant, youth recreation area, and apartments or hotel rooms.
Nick Ekonomou, a former Florida State University football player who has redeveloped several apartment projects and single-family homes in Miami-Dade County, said he hopes to also have his own residence in the building. "I am prepared to close and I have the money," he said. "I love this building and this is a long-term goal for me."...
06/24/14 Human Interest
Beaches to get infusion of sand
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to start putting fresh sand on Pinellas County's eroded beaches at the beginning of July, but the beaches will remain open throughout the work, corps officials said.
The work will begin at Sunshine Beach, at the northern tip of Treasure Island. It will be followed by Sunset Beach in Treasure Island and Upham Beach and Pass-a-Grille in St. Pete Beach....
06/05/14 Economic Development
Dear Mr. Edwards: A downtown hotel would fit nicely on the long-stagnant Tropicana block that you recently bought. Please keep that in mind as you, or anyone else you might have sold it to, plans to develop this pivotal city block on Central Avenue. As for the design, an inviting streetscape with wide sidewalks and recessed patios would be great. Yours truly, area business leaders....
ST. PETERSBURG — A nationally celebrated chef and restaurateur is opening a 20,000-square-foot epicurean market this fall that will include a farm-to-table restaurant at Sundial.
Michael Mina, who has 20 acclaimed restaurants in hot spots like San Francisco, Las Vegas and Miami Beach, is creating his first market concept, Locale, specifically for St. Petersburg's newest retail center....
05/28/14 Public Safety
ST. PETE BEACH — The view from Postcard Inn on the Beach was far from picturesque the morning after Memorial Day.
Broken foam coolers, crumpled Heineken cans and empty beer boxes overflowed out of two trash cans into knee-deep piles on the sand. Trails of glass bottles led to nearby wooden lounge chairs, surrounded by more litter.
Alcohol and glass aren't allowed on St. Pete Beach, but city ordinances and Pinellas County sheriff's deputies contracted to enforce the law don't seem to be taming the party in front of the 196-room inn. ...
05/23/14 Auto racing
St. Petersburg will be represented at Sunday's Indianapolis 500 by driver James Davison, who has signed a lease on a downtown apartment, and by Belleair Development, a sponsor of his team. "I am thrilled to be competing in my first Indianapolis 500," he said. "Indy is what led me to the United States from Australia 10 years ago and winning the 500 has always been my childhood dream." The Tiffany blue car is also sponsored by Verizon, among others. Belleair Development CEO Carlos Yepes, who has developed condos, restaurants, gas stations and more in the area, met Davison, 27, when he was in town during the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. "It's really cool to have a local connection to the Indy 500," said Yepes, who declined to say what he paid for the sponsorship that got the Belleair Development Group logo on the side of car No. 33 right next to the driver's seat....
ST. PETERSBURG — The drive along Fourth Street N should be a lot smoother in a few months. The repaving of the roadway, from Gandy Boulevard to Fifth Avenue N, is expected to be complete by fall, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
The $6.7 million project includes replacing sidewalks throughout the 10-mile stretch so they comply with Americans With Disabilities Act requirements. Workers also have upgraded drainage between 13th and 20th avenues N....
ST. PETE BEACH
A hotel project that stalled in 2008 soon will open as a 50-room boutique hotel combining a hip South Beach look and accents you'd find in an old Spanish castle.
With a rooftop patio, suites with glass walls, floor tiles resembling wide wooden planks, exposed cherry ceiling beams and a color scheme of orange, tan and turquoise, Hotel Zamora is like nothing else at St. Pete Beach....