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Changes keep cooking on 34th Street S

After some delays, the Twin Brooks Commons shopping center is completed and stores should open in the next three months.

The 26,000-square-foot center at 22nd Avenue S and 34th Street was finished in June, but tenants only recently began to complete their spaces.

It is one of several recent upgrades to the 34th Street Corridor. The center also will be one of the biggest shopping centers in Midtown, second to the Tangerine Plaza, which opened last year with a Sweetbay Supermarket.

"Now that people can touch and feel it, there's more interest," said Susan Haskel of Haskel Realty Group, the firm leasing the space in the center.

More than half the center is under lease, she said. Stores set to open in the next 90 days will include Wireless Toyz, Quizno's, Check * Go, H&R Block, Nail Art, Athlete's Edge Footwear and Apparel, and Urban Streetz.

Haskel said she is negotiating a real estate office and another shoe store, and having conversations with the owners of an unnamed sit-down restaurant.

"It's location, it's demographics, it's visibility," she said.

More than 200,000 people live within 5 miles of the site, and 42,000 cars traverse the intersection every day, she added.

An IHOP also is set to open soon on 34th Street at 38th Avenue S in a project that will include adjacent retail stores. IHOP officials say the restaurant should open in December, but the stores in the same building don't have signed tenants yet.

"Over the last five years, that street has been rediscovered," said Kevin Dunn, St. Petersburg's director of development. "The area's been underserved, but the population's there, the household incomes are there."

Farther south, Wal-Mart built a supercenter on 34th Street, an empty fast-food restaurant is being turned into a bank, and other movements are afoot. The city has emphasized improving the corridor, particularly around its southern end and the Central Plaza district.

The city has been fielding many more inquiries from businesses interested in 34th Street, Dunn said.

Target and Home Depot have inquired about the area, he said, but the trouble is in amassing enough land for such big-box stores.

City officials and neighbors have said they are pleased to see Twin Brooks Commons because the businesses that were there were not helping to improve the area.

The $5-million center replaced a vacant grocery store, an adult store and billboards advertising bail services.

Paul Swider can be reached at 892-2271 or pswider@sptimes.com or by participating in itsyourtimes.com.

Fast facts

Twin Brooks

More than half the strip shopping center at 34th Street S and 22nd Avenue is leased, agents say. Stores to open in the next three months include:

- Wireless Toyz

- Quizno's

- Check * Go

- H&R Block

- Nail Art

- Athlete's Edge Footwear and Apparel

- Urban Streetz

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