TAMPA — The Y. Pendas y Alvarez Cigar Factory’s century-old clock will ring again.
When the factory was built in 1909, the clock tower was the second in the area, tallest in the state, played music in a syncopated gong on the hour and lit up at night.
After the factory stopped producing cigars in the 1950s, the building fell into disrepair. The clock has not worked for decades.
“We want to bring it back to its original life,” said Ted Boscaino, whose family is now leasing to own the West Tampa building at 2301 N. Albany Ave. “It will be our gift to the community.”
The Boscainos are restoring the three-story, 43,000-square-foot factory from the basement up. The 120-foot clock tower will be the final piece of the project.
The adjoining 18,000-square-foot warehouse built in the 1950s and the factory’s basement will be the new home to the Boscaino’s Wine Stream company.
The Boscainos produce their wine in Italy and ship it to the Unites States in “flex-tanks,” Ted Boscaino said. “Those are like giant bladders.”
Wine Stream transfers the wine into vats and then kegs to be sold, a process that will occur in the cigar factory’s warehouse. It currently takes place in a 5,000-square-foot facility in Drew Park.
The factory basement will serve as keg storage for Wine Stream and their customers.
“You can buy a barrel and age it in the basement for as long as you want,” Max Boscaino, the family patriarch, said. “You monitor the aging and keep it there for one month, three months, six months, whatever you want.”
The first floor is being converted into a wine bar and pizza parlor.
The second floor will become an Italian market and the third will serve as event or office space.
Finally, the Boscaino’s will take on the restoration of the clock tower.
The warehouse, basement and first floor should be open to the public by January, the Boscainos said, but there is no timeline for the rest of the factory.
“We wanted to have some type of historic building connected with our brand and our company,” Ted Boscaino said. “We came across this building and said, ‘Bingo. This is the perfect place to expand what we do.’”
The lease to own deal is for $4.5 million, they will spend an estimated $3 million on restoration and the building will be in their name in a year, Max Boscaino said.
The clock tower, he said, will cost around $70,000 to restore.
They are purchasing the factory from Phil Farley and Henry Bentley, who also own the nearby Santaella Cigar Factory at 1906 N. Armenia Ave. that they had painted white. That design decision is unpopular among historic preservations but legal because the factory is not designated a local historic landmark. Such designation prevents owners from altering the original historic look of a building’s exterior.
Farley and Bently purchased the Pendes factory for $3.3 million in 2019 from Tampa Tarp, which makes items such as cushions, umbrellas and tarps there.
The Boscainos said they are restoring the Pendes factory as though it is a historic landmark. They might seek official designation when they are done.
“That would protect our work from ever being changed,” Max Boscaino said. “But I don’t think anyone would want to change our work. It will be perfect.”
They are also restoring the interior to match its original look by removing modern drop ceilings and wooden walls to expose the wooden ceilings and brick walls.
And the Boscainos are incorporating the cigar factory’s remaining artifacts into the interior design. Those include a cigar press, tobacco scale and safe. The third floor has a six-room wooden humidor.
“The clock still has the original faces,” Ted Boscaino said. “And the original motor.”
Y. Pendas & Alvarez Co. built the factory for $7,000 from a design by architect Fred J. James, who later created El Centro Español of West Tampa.
“With this new building in West Tampa, Pendas & Alvarez will then easily be the most cosmopolitan company in the city,” the Weekly Tribune reported. “At a distance, enhanced by a large tower, it appears as a church.”
The only other clock tower in the area was the one on the Hillsborough County Courthouse, which stood where the Tampa Police Department is today.
A year after the Pendes factory was finished, El Regensburg Cigar Factory was built in Ybor City, featuring another clock tower.
The Regensburg company bought the Pendes factory in 1920 and produced cigars at both plants until moving operations to Pennsylvania in the early 1950s.
Today, the Regensburg factory in Ybor City is owned by J.C. Newman Cigar Co. It is the last factory in Tampa still producing cigars. The Newman family restored the factory’s clock in 2002.
The Regensburg name is spelled out on a tile floor in the Pendes factory’s entrance.
But the Boscaino family said the tiling need to be removed so the wood underneath can be restored. They are concerned the tile won’t survive the process.
If it does not, Max Boscaino said they might install a new floor tile sign bearing his family’s name.
“This building,” he said, “I want it to be my family’s legacy.”