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Feed store is on the move

The fate of the city's octogenarian feed store appears to be settled.

City officials this week reaffirmed their commitment to provide a site for the building and plans are under way to move it before the end of the month.

"We made a commitment in 1988 that we would provide a site for the feed store if it was moved," City Manager Stephen Bonczek said Wednesday. "We reaffirmed that we would fulfill that commitment" at a commission work session Tuesday night.

Cathy Santa, director of the city's recreation and parks, said the Largo Historical Society is planning to have the building moved this month at a cost of $49,000.

She said the building will be moved to the proposed Largo Central Park at East Bay Drive and Third Street, where visitors will be able to go through it and experience its architecture and history. The park is less than a mile east of the building's current location, near Missouri Avenue and West Bay Drive.

Sadie Johnson of the historical society said the group wants to move the feed store because of its age and its ties to the city's agricultural past.

"Largo has had a feed store there since about 1902 or 1903," she said. "This store was built in 1910 or 1912. The feed store is the story of Largo's agricultural history."

Roesch House Movers is expected to meet Monday with society members to determine the moving date. It could be as early as next week, according to city officials.

Meanwhile, the feed business has already moved to new digs.

The new store, a block west of the old one, has more than twice the space and is air-conditioned and more more accessible, said Adam Gentile, who has owned the business nine years with his father, Tony.

"We have a lot more space here and it's cleaner and brighter. People can see the merchandise better," Gentile said. The most important plus of the new location is better parking, he said.

"People liked the old store because it was old and had wooden floors and there was a feeling of nostalgia," Gentile said. But, because it is near a major intersection and a railroad track, "it had become very difficult to get in and out of there," he said.

The new store, actually three buildings, has 12,000 square feet compared with the old store's 4,500 square feet. It will feature an expanded pet supply section, Gentile said.

Road improvements, the reason for moving the building, are to begin this spring, said Lee Royal, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

Improvements will include expansion of the Missouri Avenue intersection at East and West Bay drives from four to six lanes, she said. East Bay Drive also will be expanded from four to six lanes from Missouri Avenue to just east of Highland Avenue, she said.