12/25/14 Real Estate
ST. PETERSBURG — The 600 block of Central Avenue, also known as the Art Block, has reached a level of success that is prompting changes and mixed reviews.
Five years after a major effort started to revive the empty north side of the block with artists paying as little as $5 a square foot, the original terms on those leases expire Dec. 31 and rents are rising. At least three of the early tenants are moving, and could be replaced with more traditional retailers....
12/17/14 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — It's the stuff of a Hallmark Channel holiday movie. Twenty lucky St. Petersburg employees, mostly in the restaurant business, are getting $1,000 tips just in time for Christmas thanks to a publicity stunt by a local company.
A single mom with Crohn's disease will put her windfall toward medical bills. Another waiter is spending hers on prerequisite classes for nursing school. A third is saving to go to Haiti to help with a farming program. A father of two young boys with a baby on the way will use the unexpected cash for holidays and the special delivery....
Crown Automotive Group's CEO and owner Dwayne Hawkins has been nominated for Time magazine's Dealer of the Year award. He's one of 55 dealers out of 17,000 nationwide to be chosen. Hawkins, 79, will be honored Jan. 23 at the 98th annual National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco.
Here's what the automotive veteran has to say about the nomination, the industry and buying a car....
12/11/14 Human Interest
From local CEOs and Rays executives to low-income kids and guys needing a free hair cut, St. Petersburg barber Billy Hume knows them all.
"Hey, brutha," he calls out in his Massachusetts tongue, hailing a customer who has just walked into Billy's Corner Barber Shop at 2031 Fourth St. N.
"What's up, T?" he says to the next.
"Look who's here," he quips as another regular files into his three-chair shop in a small strip center built in 1953....
Small, local retailers can't buy merchandise in bulk. They can't afford commercials during Modern Family or The Voice. They don't place splashy ads in Vanity Fair or other glossy magazines.
But one of the edges Mom and Pop have over the big-box retailers and national chains — they know how to throw a party. Email and snail mail boxes are filled this holiday season with invites to wine and cheese nights, sip-and-shop evenings and customer appreciation events....
12/04/14 Real Estate
When Bruce Watters moved his father's jewelry store from Central Avenue to Beach Drive NE in 1974, he paid $6.50 a square foot in rent. Now his son Jim Watters and his real estate partnership own the 200 block of the tony street. They collect $40 a square foot from tenants.
The partnership is one of four entities that own a combined 54 percent of the commercial real estate on Beach Drive. The others are the Hamilton Partnership, children of a doctor who set up shop there in 1962; Birchwood hotel owner Chuck Prather; and JMC Communities, which developed the Florencia and Ovation condominiums and the Hampton Inn....
11/20/14 Real Estate
Downtown's residential development boom is in full swing. Three apartment buildings are completed, four more are in various stages of construction and six condo projects are under way. • By the time they are all finished, 2,031 new homes will be added within less than a mile of downtown's waterfront.
The developers hail from Largo to Miami, Dallas to Cleveland. But with so many of them in the mix, how do they know they haven't overestimated the demand?...
11/13/14 Real Estate
ST. PETERSBURG—The 88-year-old St. Petersburg YMCA has a new owner and a new name. Miami developer Nick Ekonomou plans to convert the decaying, but beautiful building into the Edward, an upscale vacation rental with fine dining, a spa and its own brewery.
"It's named after my grandfather. The era of the building, that's when he was around and grew up. It reminds me of him," he said....
11/13/14 Real Estate
ST. PETERSBURG — The iconic World Liquors sign that has marked the corner of Central Avenue and 16th Street for 53 years is coming down to make way for a new retail and residential development. World Plaza Shoppes will have 13,000 square feet of retail at street level and 14 loft apartments above.
World Liquors owner Paul Misiewicz and Pennsylvania-based DEPG Development Associates are partnering on the $5 million project. A newly constructed World Liquors will be the anchor tenant, taking up 3,000 square feet, about three times the size of the current store....
ST. PETERSBURG — Billy Causey bought cheese and Tylenol at Publix on Third Street S, enjoyed the eggplant tapas at Ceviche on Beach Drive, ordered pumpkin lattes at Starbucks on First Street S and spent three nights at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront — all while visiting the Blue Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit.
The Key West resident, a regional director for the National Marine Sanctuary Program, estimates he spent $500 during his three days in St. Petersburg. ...
ST. PETERSBURG — You won't see any of the speakers or visitors at the Blue Ocean Film Festival & Conversation Summit taking a swig from a complimentary plastic bottle of water.
Event organizers are giving out only glass bottles of Mountain Valley Spring Water.
Even though plastic bottles can be recycled, too often they end up missing the trash or falling off the recycling truck and make their way to the water....
ST. PETERSBURG — A new addition to the city's social scene will launch this month in the city's Edge District, which stretches along Central Avenue from 16th to Martin Luther King Jr. streets.
Already, St. Petersburg is home to the popular First Fridays in downtown and the Second Saturday Art Walk. Starting Nov. 20, it will have Third Thursdays in the Edge.
The area made up of more than 100 businesses — including Paper Street Market, Designers Consigner, Milagros soap, Plain Jane, Bodega and Ricky P's Orleans Bistro — recently was awarded the Florida Main Street designation. Competing against other Florida communities, it qualified for funds to be used for promotions and improvements. ...
10/30/14 Real Estate
ST. PETERSBURG —For two years Tom Nestor has been considered the savior of the historic YMCA in downtown. Now he may be its albatross.
It was late October 2012 when he stood in the sun-splashed courtyard of the landmark, built in 1926, and shared his dream with a small gathering of reporters and friends.
"This could be a music factory for the Tampa Bay area. We estimate 200,000 people a year could come through," said Nestor, a music promoter who had just signed an unconventional purchase agreement to buy the Mediterranean revival building at 116 Fifth St. S for $1.4 million....
ST. PETERSBURG — Although most retailers at the new Sundial shopping complex are open, its three anchor restaurants are behind schedule because of construction delays.
Ruth's Chris Steak House and Sea Salt won't open until early 2015, and Locale epicurean market will debut in December.
When the developer, the Edwards Group, announced its tenant list in August, Locale was scheduled to open before Thanksgiving and the other two would follow in December....
A postcard picturing Sunken Gardens flamingos sent "Greetings from St. Petersburg Florida." A snow globe encasing two flamingos in a swirl of white particles served as one visitor's permanent reminder of the botanical garden and its exotic pink residents. Vintage plates, mugs, statues and pennants featuring flamingos have been Sunken Gardens' calling card for decades....