03/24/17 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown waterfront, a somnolent stretch in decades past, has emerged as one of the coolest places to be in Tampa Bay. Beach Drive hums with sidewalk diners. Pedestrians jostle for space. Bars, restaurants and shops are now pushing west.
To the south is a burgeoning marine science community. To the north, the majestic Vinoy Renaissance Resort has broken ground on a new marina-front restaurant. And construction could start in a matter of weeks on replacing the waterfront's signature landmark, the Pier....
ST. PETERSBURG — Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority.
The agency closed on the 24-acre property near 22nd Street and Ninth Avenue S on Tuesday, buying it back from Jordan Park Development Partners — a partnership of the Richman Group of Florida and Landex of Jacksonville.
The housing authority paid nothing apart from closing costs for the 237-apartment complex. That was because of an agreement that it would spend the $400,000 price tag to improve the property. Residents have complained about rodents, mold, inoperable appliances and other problems....
ST. PETERSBURG — The city's efforts to turn the Skyway Marina District into a commercial and retail destination just got a big boost: The Getaway, a popular waterfront restaurant on Gandy Boulevard, plans to open a second waterfront location in the district near the Sunshine Skyway bridge.
The Getaway's owners hope the new bar and restaurant will be open by Thanksgiving in a former boat showroom at Maximo Marina at 4801 37th St. S, which is undergoing a $20 million renovation....
ST. PETERSBURG — When Pope Francis raised the possibility of married priests earlier this month, it naturally raised a question for some men.
What might have been?
Consider Patrick J. Clarke.
He had been a well-liked priest at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church in Safety Harbor in 1996, when someone sent a copy of his marriage certificate to then-Bishop Robert N. Lynch. Clarke, it turned out, had been secretly married for 15 years. Lynch gave him a choice: leave the marriage or leave the priesthood. Clarke chose to stay with his wife....
03/15/17 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rowdies took the team's quest for a long-term lease agreement at Al Lang Stadium to neighborhood leaders Wednesday.
The team's campaign in preparation for a May 2 citywide vote included a video, flyers and refrigerator magnets to help woo the small crowd at the Council of Neighborhood Associations' (CONA) monthly meeting.
The team's goal is to convince St. Petersburg voters to let the city negotiate a lease of up to 25 years for the waterfront stadium, which Rowdies owner Bill Edwards wants to renovate for a Major League Soccer expansion franchise....
03/11/17 Real Estate
GULFPORT — An African-American church whose efforts to take over a neglected cemetery have been thwarted by a 23-year-old woman now appears set to launch a legal battle to claim the historic property.
"We do not believe that this particular piece of property should be in private hands. … We are striving for community ownership," the Rev. Clarence Williams, pastor of Greater Mount Zion AME Church in St. Petersburg, told a small crowd gathered at the church Saturday....
03/06/17 Real Estate
GULFPORT — Heads bowed, the African-American leaders held hands around the conference table Thursday.
State Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, prayed fervently that their reinvigorated efforts to save Lincoln Cemetery, an historic African-American burial ground, would be "duplicated and replicated throughout the community . . . so that our loved ones who are buried there and loved ones yet to be buried there may know that we care."...
02/27/17 Human Interest
GULFPORT — The effort to rehabilitate Lincoln Cemetery, a historic burial ground for African-Americans established in 1926, was a team effort:
A black congregation, Greater Mount Zion AME Church in St. Petersburg, wanted to take over the neglected property. A white volunteer, Vanessa Gray, organized cleanups. Pinellas County planned to give the church $90,000 from the BP oil spill settlement to maintain it....
Middle school vice principal, sixth-grade teacher victims in Brandon double murder/suicide shoot-out02/25/17Crime
BRANDON — Lisa Fuillerat and Samara Routenberg thought they had prepared for the violence that came their way early Friday morning.
The couple equipped Routenberg's home on Hickory Creek Drive with security cameras. They each had a handgun, and they were prepared to defend themselves. But it wasn't enough to stop Fuillerat's violent, estranged husband.
He was prepared, too.
While Fuillerat and Routenberg were likely getting ready for a Friday with their students at Lake Gibson Middle School in Lakeland, Vincente Fuillerat pulled up to their picturesque house in east Hillsborough County armed with a shotgun and wearing a bullet-resistant vest....
02/24/17 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — As the quest to commission the work of acclaimed artist Janet Echelman for the Pier pushes ahead, discontent simmers in art circles.
The city's Public Arts Commission recently voted to put $37,500 toward an exploratory contract with Echelman, a step that could lead to one of her multimillion-dollar aerial sculptures soaring above the downtown waterfront.
Impressive as her billowing, net-like sculptures may be, some in the city's art community question the wooing of Echelman, a talent far beyond the public art budget of $488,000 allocated for the $66 million Pier District. And critics accuse Mayor Rick Kriseman — who presented Echelman with a key to the city in October — of interfering with the job of the committee charged with selecting artistic works for the 26-acre waterfront attraction....
02/20/17 Real Estate
ST. PETERSBURG — Amid a hub of construction and closed sidewalks, the opening of the new Tom and Mary James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art is months away, but leasing for its prime downtown retail and office space has begun.
The museum at 100 Central Ave. is where 400 to 500 pieces of Tom and Mary James' extensive art collection will be on display.
The Sembler Co. has begun marketing the ground-floor retail units, while Echelon Real Estate Services is leasing office space on the second floor....
02/16/17 Local Government
GULFPORT — A community meeting to discuss plans for the historic African-American Lincoln Cemetery, 600 58th St. S, is set for 6 p.m., Feb. 27, at Greater Mount Zion AME Church, 1045 16th St S, St. Petersburg.
Lincoln Cemetery, where African-Americans have been buried since 1926, has been neglected over the years. It is now being taken over by Cross and Anvil Human Services, the nonprofit arm of Greater Mount Zion AME Church. The Rev. Clarence Williams said the nonprofit will ensure that the 9-acre cemetery is properly maintained. There are also plans to use ground-penetrating radar to locate unmarked or sunken graves....
02/16/17 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Petersburg Housing Authority is inching towards ownership of Jordan Park, the 24-acre public housing complex near 22nd Street and Ninth Avenue S.
Tuesday, after months of negotiations, the agency signed a purchase and sale agreement with Jordan Park Development Partners — a partnership of the Richman Group of Florida and Landex of Jacksonville — to buy back the property it once owned....
ST. PETERSBURG — The Rev. Manuel Sykes, well-known pastor of Bethel Community Baptist Church, will not be retiring soon, after all.
Sykes announced his plan to retire about four months ago, saying he would be devoting his time to his health and completing a dissertation for a doctorate in counseling psychology.
Last week he said that those goals have not changed, but that his congregation had persuaded him to remain. That happened one Sunday about three weeks ago, Sykes said, when one of his ministers stood up in front of the church and "made an announcement that God put it on his heart that I'm not going to be leaving for another five years."...
02/04/17 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The Pier District is the city's quest to build a world-class attraction, and that means acquiring world-class public art.
That's why Mayor Rick Kriseman has urged a public arts committee to hire internationally renowned artist and Tampa native Janet Echelman to install one of her voluminous, floating sculptures at the Pier, where it would float above Tampa Bay.
Echelman's work, displayed in places like the Smithsonian, a waterfront in Portugal and in a Phoenix park, is pricey. The Phoenix piece billows 145 feet into the sky and is illuminated with colored lights that change from season to season....