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Once BayWalk, then Shops at St. Pete, it's now Sundial

Published Feb. 19, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG

Sundial is the new name for the downtown retail complex formerly known as the Shops at St. Pete that was formerly known as BayWalk. The much-awaited shopping plaza's new title comes from an ornate metal sundial that will sit in a fountain in the middle of its courtyard.

"The sundial came before the name," said Rick Baker, president of the Edwards Group. But as Bill Edwards, the center's owner and visionary, kept talking about how people would meet at the sundial the idea for the name was born. And he thought it was a nod to St. Petersburg's nickname, the Sunshine City.

Baker added that there are already numerous shopping centers known as "The Shops" at somewhere.

Water from the sundial fountain will trickle into a mosaic lagoon made from 288,000 blue, 1-inch glass tiles. Life-size bronze sculptures of dolphins will be perched in the water mosaic. Much of this will be shaded by four 18-foot-tall, 28-foot-wide umbrellas resembling enormous flowers.

The dramatic courtyard, which has been a roped-off construction zone for months, will open to pedestrians by the end of March. Stores and restaurants will open sporadically after that. Baker wouldn't say when the first would open or when all stores would be in place.

"We have signed contracts in place for most of the center," Baker said. "I think people will be very excited about the tenants both local and national."

He declined to name any but said more announcements are coming soon.

Edwards, who bought long-struggling Baywalk for $5.2 million in late 2011, originally planned to start naming tenants in August 2012 and open the center in the fall of 2013. Baker didn't acknowledge any holdups or explain the delayed time frame.

"I'm very comfortable with where we are," he said. "I think it's been done in a very timely manner. It takes a lot to do something like this."

The walkway from the city's parking garage and the pathway between the shops and Muvico have been resurfaced with quarried stone. Several tenants have started the buildout of their interior space as exterior construction hums along. The logo that was designed for the Shops at St. Pete, an ornate letter S, will remain for Sundial. Silver signs featuring the S started going up Monday.

Most restaurants will be on the second level, with 9,000 square feet of outdoor dining space for a quick bite or gourmet meal. Two giant, flat screens atop the second floor will air images of fashion shows or cooking demonstrations going on at the center.

Most of the shops will be on the first floor. Many will face the courtyard, but some will face the movie theater. LED and other lighting will illuminate the umbrellas, fountain, sundial and landscaping at night.

Baker wouldn't share the cost of the 28-foot-high sundial. Edwards has estimated he will spend $40 million on the whole project. The sundial, fountain and mosaic lagoon were designed by Rene Lagler, who has designed settings for various events such as one Academy Awards ceremony and five Grammys. The dolphins are being created by local artist Mark Aeling and MGA Sculpture Studio in St. Petersburg.

"Kids are going to be taking pictures in front of those dolphins their whole lives," Baker said.

Katherine Snow Smith can be contacted at (727) 893-8785 or kssmith@tampabay.com.

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