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Empty fire station to become home, art gallery

City officials selected Rustic Steel Creations artist Dominique Martinez to breathe new life into vacant Fire Station No. 5.

Martinez's proposal to purchase the historic building at 1910 N Florida Ave. beat out five other applicants, the city announced two weeks ago.

Martinez plans to rehabilitate the 1925 Mediterranean Revival-style station to serve as his home and art gallery.

"I just felt it was a great location to help expand art throughout the Tampa Bay area," Martinez said.

Martinez, 49, will keep his 6,000-square-foot Channel District warehouse, where he sculpts gates, railings and large dragons out of steel.

Once Martinez purchases the Tampa Heights fire station, he will open the live/work gallery and hold events to showcase the works of different artists.

Martinez submitted his proposal early this year, and the Tampa Heights Civic Association backed it with a letter of support.

Other top proposals included a professional office and loft apartments by Urban Edge Development and French consulate and restaurant by Faust Realty.

City officials chose the Rustic Steel Creations proposal because his plans fit in with the mayor's strategic initiative to make Tampa a city of the arts.

The City Council was scheduled to review the city staff's recommendation to sell to Martinez on Thursday.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at 226-3354 or azayas@sptimes.com.

IF YOU GO

A Red Christmas

Rustic Steel Creations will host its fourth annual A Red Christmas holiday party Saturday night to benefit the Paul B. Stevens Jr. School Arts Program and the Outdoor Arts Foundation. It will feature live welding presentations, a silent auction, displays by art students, hors d'oeuvres by Fly Restaurant and an open bar. The party will begin at 8 p.m. at the Channel District studio, 114 S 12th St. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. To purchase, call toll free 1-877-474-7282 or visit www.aredchristmas.com.

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