ST. PETERSBURG — The battle over the sale of the historic former YMCA building is over and developer Nick Ekonomou, who bought it more than a year ago, is ready to begin restoration.
"The project now moves forward full steam ahead," he said Wednesday.
Ekonomou said he has hired local architect Jack Bodziak and is engaging a contractor to convert the 1927 building at 116 Fifth St. S into short-term luxury rentals. It will also feature a wedding venue, restaurant and a members-only club. The South Florida developer also said he's about to sign a contract with Scatter Brothers Productions to film a documentary of the restoration....
11/27/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — They filled the seats in the City Hall chamber, uniting to have their say about a nearby affordable housing project.
The word had gone out on Facebook about the 83-unit apartment complex that could rise in their Riviera Bay Civic Association neighborhood.
"Once the low-income tenants are moved into the project, the neighborhood should anticipate a substantial increase in vehicular and pedestrian traffic, an increase in crime, and a substantial decrease in property values," wrote longtime resident Hal Hammer. ...
11/26/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — At a recent meeting of neighborhood leaders, police Chief Tony Holloway chose humor to make a serious point as the holiday season drew near.
"I have to say thank you very much because I know that the city of St. Petersburg is very safe," he said. "Because you keep leaving your keys in your cars. You keep leaving your homes unlocked. You keep leaving your purses in your vehicles."...
11/25/15 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Shawntell Sword talked openly about how her brother used to be.
"He was not somebody you would want to be around," Sword said. "It was hard. You were always worried. Worried about what was going on."
David Hancock gave an embarrassed laugh.
"I've done a lot of hateful things," Hancock said.
This Thanksgiving marks 22 months and three days since he's been sober....
11/23/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council postponed a decision Monday to spend $1.5 million in settlement money from the BP oil spill on the city's aging sewer system.
The decision came on the heels of passionate statements from advocates for the arts and residents of some of the city's southern neighborhoods, each with their own designs on the money.
Of the $6.5 million St. Petersburg has received from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill settlement, the council agreed only to designate $250,000. That money will help the Florida Institute of Oceanography buy a new $6 million marine research vessel....
11/19/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Three companies will compete for a chance to manage, operate and program the city's new Pier District.
Thursday was the deadline to respond to the city's request for proposals seeking companies whose responsibilities will include marketing, leasing, parking, security and building maintenance for the district that will stretch from the city's new $46 million waterfront landmark — Pier Park — to Bayshore and Beach drives....
11/16/15 Local Government
The inverted pyramid is no more.
Demolition that started in August removed the last scrap of the Pier on Monday, leaving behind only debris.
Here is a final look back at the unique structure that stood out on St. Petersburg's waterfront for more than 40 years.
• The pyramid designed by architect William B. Harvard Sr. opened Jan. 15, 1973. It was the city's third public Pier....
11/12/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Sometime during the night of Jan. 30, the bus shelters that ring Williams Park will disappear, setting the stage for a new era in public transportation in St. Petersburg's downtown.
A new plan will eliminate a decades-old bus hub that city leaders, neighbors and businesses have complained is unsightly, a magnet for loiterers and a shield for crime.
On Thursday, city and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority officials praised the change that will go into effect Feb. 14 and disperse buses and bus stops in a grid network away from the historic park and through downtown streets....
11/12/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A popular waterfront bar and restaurant on Gandy Boulevard has been shut down by a temporary injunction.
Last Friday's order by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge John A. Schaefer forced I.C. Sharks — which racked up a lien for more than $740,000 in a long-running dispute with Pinellas County — to close its cafe, tiki bar and boat rental business.
The judge allowed the bait and tackle shop and retail seafood market to remain open at the business' 13040 Gandy Blvd. site....
11/11/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Chris Nemi sat astride his light blue BMW motorbike, his eyes fixed on the husks of steel beams that are all that remains of the Pier's inverted pyramid.
Since the Pier's demolition began three months ago, Nemi, 53, rides out every day to watch it vanish, piece by piece.
"It was an identifiable mark," the New Hampshire transplant said of the 42-year-old structure designed by award-winning architect William B. Harvard Sr. "This was the first place someone brought me."...
11/05/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Not a single restaurateur submitted a bid by Thursday's deadline to open an establishment at the city's new Pier Park, fueling doubt that the dining anchor of the $46 million project is considered viable by those who would operate it.
While city officials had hoped to attract several bids to develop, lease and operate a restaurant at the pier by 1 p.m. Thursday, officials downplayed the fact that the deadline passed with zero bids received....
11/05/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The inverted pyramid will soon be just a memory, but the fate of a historic bait house has hung in the balance in recent days.
An announcement in late October that the city planned to auction the bait house, which dates to the 1926 Million Dollar Pier, stunned preservationists and other residents. Council of Neighborhood Associations president Marlene Murray objected in an email Saturday to Mayor Rick Kriseman's chief of staff....
ST. PETERSBURG — Voter turnout in Tuesday's election was anemic, but it was enough for Mayor Rick Kriseman to clinch City Council support to break a five-year stalemate with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Kriseman picked up the critical council vote in the District 7 race, where Lisa Wheeler-Brown beat Will Newton, 58 percent to 42 percent. With 30,286 ballots cast, or 17.3 percent of the city's registered voters, about 4,000 voters were the difference in electing Wheeler-Brown....
Voters were in short supply across St. Petersburg on Tuesday morning as the polls opened for three City Council races that could determine the future of the Tampa Bay Rays.
In St. Petersburg and Seminole, which also has city elections, turnout was sparse. The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections estimated turnout to be 1.86% at 10 a.m.
Added to mailed ballots, the overall estimated voter turnout was about 13 percent. That is similar to the turnout in 2011, the last time the city elected council members without a mayor's race on the ballot....
With the Tampa Bay Rays' fate in the balance, low voter turnout expected in Tuesday's St. Petersburg election10/30/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Even with three City Council seats on the line, two of which could change the future of Major League Baseball in the Tampa Bay area, voter turnout is likely to be weak in Tuesday's municipal elections.
The tepid interest will be unlike last November's elections, where 57.4 percent of voters weighed in on state and countywide issues, such as the gubernatorial race and a mass transit referendum....