03/08/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — As Mayor Rick Kriseman ponders the complexities of the Pier quagmire, meeting with those who have been vociferous in their views, creative minds are developing new ideas for the waterfront landmark or dusting off old ones.
Darryl LeClair, who proposed a $570 million stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, is ready to reprise his pier proposal that debuted in 2011. That was before the city selected the Lens and voters rejected it as a replacement to the inverted pyramid....
03/07/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A link to the new Skyway Marina District, where sunsets, shopping and dining are promised, announces that a proper website is coming soon.
The placeholder, skywaymarinadistrict.com, features a YouTube rendering of a redeveloped and unrecognizable Skyway Mall — once a thriving shopping center — featuring shops, restaurants, high-rise residences, businesses, fountains and palm trees....
After 123 years downtown, its tranquil courtyard a respite for passers-by and the stained glass-illuminated sanctuary a continuous setting for worship and community gatherings, Christ United Methodist Church refuses to fade away.
That's despite suggestions that the historic church next to City Hall close and merge with another Methodist congregation mere blocks away....
02/25/14 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Jayla Bonhomme, a night stocker at Walmart, says the paycheck she earns every two weeks doesn't stretch to cover utilities, child care and the $699 rent for her two-bedroom apartment in a troubled, rundown complex.
She has been forced to make her rent in partial payments, said Bonhomme, 32, who lives at Mariners Pointe, 1175 Pinellas Point Drive S, with her husband, Nelson Joseph, and three children, ages 14, 12 and 3....
02/18/14 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Three flags flutter above the compound where a new pagoda-style temple is nearing completion and a bronze Buddha overlooks the street.
Next to Meadowlawn Middle School, this is where hundreds of worshipers gather from as far away as Miami, Orlando and Sarasota for important Buddhist holidays, retreats and cultural events.
"Part of it is we have the shrine," said Tanya Vu, a longtime member of the Chua Phat Phap Buddhist Temple at 1770 62nd Ave N....
02/14/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — With the contentious Pier issue now on his watch, Mayor Rick Kriseman must find consensus among disparate notions about how to continue a tradition that dates to 1889.
The new mayor also must contend with a formerly mentioned goal "to have the new pier built by the end of 2015" and a slightly diminished budget of approximately $45 million.
Friday city staff presented Kriseman with three proposals for moving the stalled Pier process forward, ideas that he will evaluate immediately, spokesman Ben Kirby said. ...
02/14/14 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Mariners Pointe Apartments, long the bane of its Pinellas Point neighbors, has been sold.
The new owner, DWSS St. Pete LLC, is planning millions of dollars in renovations to the rundown, crime-plagued property at 1175 Pinellas Point Drive S.
"We are completely rebranding Mariners Pointe," said Richard Willingham, one of the principals and owner of Atlanta Capital Advisors, an investment group based in Georgia. ...
02/11/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Three years since the city first proposed traffic improvements to a treacherous stretch near the Northeast Park Shopping Center, relief is on the horizon.
The $755,000 project, which had been delayed because of funding, will receive $435,000 from the state Department of Transportation for work that will include traffic lights and a crosswalk at the shopping center's main entrance on 38th Avenue, and landscaped and concrete medians along the avenue as it winds east, becoming 40th Avenue, between Fourth and First streets....
02/07/14 Local Government
It offers the best fishing Tom Smith knows, luring him on a 50-mile round trip that takes him from Palmetto to St. Petersburg and its well-known Pier. Smith, 75, claims a special spot at the far end, in the shadow of the closed inverted pyramid that sits on the structure jutting more than 1,000 feet into Tampa Bay.
"I've been fishing out here for 20-something years and this is always been my favorite place," Smith said, leaning over the wooden fishing pier, his line cast expectantly in the waters below....
01/30/14 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Brian Smiley, operations manager for Sweetwater Organic Community Farm, laid out a colorful table of produce in the parking lot of the Body Electric Yoga, just around the bend from Fresh Market.
Bell peppers. Tomatoes. Carrots still wearing their green tops. Kohlrabi. A dainty head of lettuce. Turnips. Fennel. Dill. Daikon, the Korean cooking staple. And a bok choy variety called joi choi....
ST. PETERSBURG — The imposing facade of the former First Baptist Church — the slice of a historic structure saved from demolition — may find some use, after all.
Ongoing negotiations could result in the facade, with its 30-foot Greek revival columns, being incorporated into a unique downtown garage. The property across from Williams Park is on the market for $1 million....
01/14/14 Human Interest
At the Florida Holocaust Museum, Hannah Senesh's brief but heroic life is disseminated against a background of symbolic color — autumn gold, pale avocado, dark olive and highland breeze.
There's her early life in a middle-class Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary. Next is a newly discovered Zionist fervor that led her to Palestine. That is followed by a volunteer mission as a parachutist into war-torn Europe and her capture, interrogation and death by firing squad. All is encapsulated in a look at Senesh's ongoing legacy as a pioneer and martyr. It's a story told in film, books and with her poetry, one set to music and embraced as "a virtual second anthem" in Israel and sung by people around the world....
01/10/14 Human Interest
The giant crane hovering near Bayfront Tower — the prestigious downtown waterfront address with valet parking and rooftop pool —- signals the start of a two-year, $10 million update for the Beach Drive condominium.
Built almost four decades ago, the facelift comes as Bayfront Tower finds itself being outshined by modern upstarts with names like Ovation, Signature and Vinoy Place....
ST. PETERSBURG — Muvico Theater at BayWalk, which changed hands late last year, will keep its name.
The downtown St. Petersburg movie house is among nine Muvico complexes in Florida, California and Illinois that were acquired by Carmike Cinemas in November. Muvico has anchored the failed shopping center — now closed and being rebuilt as the Shops at St. Pete by new owner Bill Edwards — since 2000....
01/07/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — With notice that incoming Mayor Rick Kriseman planned to reopen the area around the Pier to the public, workers began preparing the way days before his swearing in last Thursday.
The fence that had enclosed the inverted pyramid since its closure in May came down Sunday, and the pier head once again welcomes sightseers, joggers and anglers.
The building itself remains tightly secured pending a decision about whether it should be renovated or demolished. Meanwhile, taxpayers are paying about $30,000 a month for 24-hour security, maintenance and utilities at the facility, a cost that is not expected to rise with the increased public access, said David Metz, the city's director of downtown enterprise facilities....