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New food hall at Sundial will replace Locale Market and stores

The Armature Works project will redevelop 25,000 square feet of commercial space in downtown St. Petersburg.
Part of Sundial in St. Petersburg will become a food hall. The mall is currently a mixture of retail stores and restaurants.
Part of Sundial in St. Petersburg will become a food hall. The mall is currently a mixture of retail stores and restaurants. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]
Published Nov. 1, 2019
Updated Nov. 1, 2019

The team behind Tampa’s Armature Works’ Heights Public Market will open a new food hall in part of downtown St. Petersburg’s Sundial.

The announcement Friday was detailed in a press release from Armature Works co-owner Chas Bruck, who said the project would include redeveloping 25,000 square feet of the downtown retail space, including the areas currently occupied by tenants Locale Market and FarmTable Cucina.

“We are very excited to extend our brand across the bay and into downtown St. Petersburg,” Bruck said in the release. “While we have an ambitious timeline for completion, we look forward to launching this unique food hall experience for the entire community to enjoy.”

Sundial owner Bill Edwards lauded the new development plans, calling the downtown shopping and dining destination a “catalyst for growth in downtown St. Pete.”

The Heights Public Market at Armature Works.
The Heights Public Market at Armature Works. [ Photo courtesy of Armature Works ]

Other retail spaces affected by the new development plans include Jacki Z Style Co., which will move to the East side of the shopping complex, and Wellness Center at Sundial and D-Gallerie Fine Arts, which will both close. The project will also take over several vacant retail spaces on the building’s lower level. The AMC Sundial 20 movie theater will remain open.

Italian restaurant FarmTable Cucina and the gourmet grocer Locale Market, which opened in late 2014, will stay open throughout the holidays and close at the end of this year. The restaurant-market hybrid from acclaimed chef Michael Mina and Don Pintabona underwent several revamps throughout its roughly five-year tenure at Sundial, and the dining options received frequent praise from local critics.

“The last five years has been an incredible experience and we feel honored to have helped shape the food culture in St. Petersburg,” Mina said in a statement. “With so many other projects and opportunities in front of me, I felt now was the right time to pass the torch.”

RELATED: FarmTable Cucina still wows with new chef, revamped menu

BE-1 Concepts, the Tampa Bay restaurant company behind the ambitious project, opened the popular food hall inside Tampa Heights’ Armature Works in early 2018.

Developers say the St. Petersburg project will in some ways be similar to the Tampa food court . It will be food and beverage focused (yes, there will be a bar), but no vendors have been planned as of yet.

“We’re re-imagining the whole space,” said Eric Blankenship, chief marketing officer for Armature Works.

“I wouldn’t expect to see the same food concepts as (Armature Works). The plan will be to have all new, unique concepts for St. Petersburg residents.”

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A variety of dishes are photographed on February 22, 2018 at the Tampa Heights Market at Armature Works in Tampa, Fla.
A variety of dishes are photographed on February 22, 2018 at the Tampa Heights Market at Armature Works in Tampa, Fla. [ MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times ]

While the Tampa food hall includes multiple restaurant stalls run by a medley of different vendors, BE-1 concepts also runs several restaurants and food stalls of their own inside the historic mixed-use building, including the southern-inspired restaurant and steakhouse Steelbach, Cress, Butcher N Barbecue and rooftop cocktail bar M.Bird.

Blankenship said it’s possible they’ll take a similar approach at the St. Petersburg building.

“It’s way early in the process and we’re still doing our research,” he said. “The most important thing is to provide the right concept(s) and if we can’t do it, we’ll find someone who can.”

Construction for the project will start at the beginning of 2020 and is projected to be completed by the end of next year.

Before it was Sundial, the complex known as BayWalk opened in 2000 with a movie theater and retail spaces. It struggled to stay afloat. Edwards bought the property in 2011 for $5.2 million, remodeled it and brought in new shops and restaurants.