Kalamazoo Olive Co. says rent hike is forcing them out of DTSP

Red Apple owns the olive company's space, and the future condo tower across the street.
Kalamazoo Olive Co is downtown St. Petersburg is moving locations due to what it says are rising rents. [BILL VARIAN | Times]
Kalamazoo Olive Co is downtown St. Petersburg is moving locations due to what it says are rising rents. [BILL VARIAN | Times]
Published March 8
Updated March 8

ST. PETERSBURG — Kalamazoo Olive Co. is on the move, but the local business says it isn't leaving its downtown Central Avenue home of the last nine years by choice.

A recent rent hike has made it "unsustainable" to stay in their location between 4th and 5th Street, according to the olive company's owner James Ryan.

"We've been handed the 'lemons' of unsustainable rent," Ryan says in a video he posted online. "So, we're basically forced to move to stay in St. Petersburg to serve all our friends and family."

Red Apple, a New York firm, bought the Florida Arcade at 449 Central Ave. in 2017 for $2.65 million. Several other shops and offices are in the space.

The same developers also plan to break ground this year across the street to turn a coveted piece of land into a massive condo and hotel tower.

"The lease was up for renewal and he chose not to renew,'' Ralph Zirinsky of Red Apple Real Estate said. He wouldn't disclose the amount of the increase but said Red Apple has had interest from other local, independent retailers and anticipates that the space "will lease quickly.''

Down the road on Central's 600 block, Daddy Kool Records recently made a similar announcement: It will soon relocate to Terminal Drive because its rent had tripled. The store's owner told the Times it went from $3,000 a month to $9,000.

"Rising commercial rents is not just an issue. It’s a crisis," Kalamazoo wrote on its Facebook page this week. "Especially a crisis to our community's sense of place, well-being and desirability."

Ryan has created a Kickstarter page to help pay for his relocation costs. In less than a week, he reached just over half of his $7,000 goal.

"For the last nine years we've tried to be good stewards of the community, and now we're asking for your support," Ryan says in the Kickstarter video.

Kalamazoo has signed a new 10-year lease at 1010 Central Ave. It hopes to open by April 1. Ryan says the overall relocation costs to outfit the new retail space and tasting room will be more than $20,000.

Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.

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