Well that idea is back, albeit with a new approach: Now the mayor wants to regulate the size of store fronts that can open on each block of downtown’s two highest-profile commercial streets.
"We're not banning (chains), but it certainly makes it a little more challenging," Kriseman said. "And if they do come in, they have to be willing to fit our design standards."
City staff developed the corridor plan in hopes of ensuring that the mix of businesses people see now along the two popular streets will stay the same.
Matthew Lettelleir, advocacy manager for the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, said members will need to learn more about the concept before making any decisions. But from the information presented so far, Lettelleir expects many businesses view it as an improvement from the previously suggested ban.
"I think our members are much happier with this than what was proposed last year," Letteleir said.
Should council members approve the change, city code would limit how many medium (21-40 feet) and large (40 feet and up) storefronts could exist be on each block. There is no maximum for small store fronts (o-20 feet). Those limits will be vary for each of the four districts, and are likely to match the current ratio along the corridor today.
Business owner Jim Woodfield, who opened Woodfield Fine Art Gallery at 2253 Central Ave. three years ago, said many business owners still view the Grand Central District as an escape from the high rents of downtown. He recently renegotiated a 3-year lease and was happy to see his rent stay at a comfortable rate.
"The biggest fear for a small business owner is somebody new is going to come in and buy the place and jack my rent up where I can't stay here," he said.
Woodfield said he thinks what was discussed Monday is a good starting point to protect small business owners and make sure the character of Central Avenue remains rooted in local stores.
"There were a lot of people crying for some sort of ordinance literally banning chain establishments," Woodfield said. "I knew there was no way we could do that. But coming up with percentages for types of store fronts, I think that's a good approach."
Contact Caitlin Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.