1. News
  2. /
  3. Hillsborough

West Tampa cigar factory with iconic clock tower is yours for $4.5 million

The owner, criticized for painting another historic factory white, bought the Pendes & Alvarez building in January for $3.3 million.
The Y. Pendas y Alvarez Cigar Factory, 2301 N Albany Ave. in Tampa, is on the market for $4.5 million. With its 120-foot clock tower, the building is a West Tampa landmark.
The Y. Pendas y Alvarez Cigar Factory, 2301 N Albany Ave. in Tampa, is on the market for $4.5 million. With its 120-foot clock tower, the building is a West Tampa landmark.
Published Dec. 2
Updated Dec. 2

TAMPA — Michael Hettrich drew the ire of historic preservationists when he painted the Santaella Cigar Factory white, covering up the raw bricks that had always defined the 114-year-old building in West Tampa.

Preservationists questioned whether he’d also ignore historic precedent in redeveloping the 109-year-old Y. Pendes & Alvarez Cigar Factory nearby, best known for its signature clock tower.

Work continues on the Santaella building. But now, Hettrich has signaled he is willing to part with the Pendes & Alvarez building. The 60,000-square-foot structure at 2301 N. Albany Ave. is on the market for $4.5 million.

Hettrich bought the building in January for $3.3 million, according to Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s records. Hettrich could not be reached for comment.

His real estate agent, Michael Braccia, said Hettrich and his business partners are interested in other ventures now.

RELATED STORY: A white cigar factory? The new paint job renews talk of protections for Tampa’s icons.

RELATED STORY: City shuts down remodeling at West Tampa cigar factory, spurring new call for landmark status.

Only 23 remain of the 200 or so factories that operated in Tampa’s heyday as a cigar capital, the late 1800s through the mid-1900s. Of those, just 11 are protected by a local preservation ordinance that prevents owners from altering the original historic look of the buildings’ exterior, according to the city of Tampa.

It is up to owners to request the designation.

Neither the Santaella nor Pendes y Alavarez factories are protected.

Missy Martin, president of the Macfarlane Neighborhood Association in West Tampa, hopes the next owner of the Pendes y Alavarez “respects the history of the building and just restores it rather than changes it.

“I know it is lot to ask but I hope they also seek" historic status for the building.

Historic designation carries a burden for the owner: Changes must follow city guidelines meant to preserve the original appearance. That can be expensive and time consuming, but owners can apply for grants and they might see the value of their property rise.

The Santaella building at 1906 N Armenia Ave., now branded as Ampersand Cooperative, will include a micro-brewery, cafe and updated studios for artists, some of whom have been renting there since before Hettrich owned the building.

The old Santaella Cigar Factory on N Armenia Avenue in Tampa, now undergoing remodeling, has been painted white.

In January, the city temporarily shut down construction at the Santaella building after finding a number of code violations. At that time, tenants credited Hettrich with stabilizing and improving the interior of the factory.

His other cigar factory, the Y. Pendas y Alvarez, was the talk of the town when it was built in 1909. Designed by architect Fred J. James, who later created El Centro Español of West Tampa, its 120-foot high clock tower was the tallest in the state, played music in a syncopated gong, and lit up the night.

Historians say the only other clock tower in the area back then was probably on the former Hillsborough County Courthouse, where the Tampa Police Department stands today. A century later, the clock doesn’t work any more but it its four faces remain intact.


  1. No sign of graves was found during a survey using ground-penetrating radar at the Tax Collector's office on E Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa. The survey was conducted based on a tip by a cemetery researcher. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    A tip from the man who pointed to the cemetery beneath King High School didn’t pan out this time.
  2. Tampa police have not identified the man caught on surveillance video peeping through the windows of Summer Sullivan and Anna Klettke's Ybor home. [Summer Sullivan]
    Denzel Crumbley was spotted walking into a dark alleyway near Summer Sullivan’s property, hiding behind a tree while holding onto a chain-link fence.
  3. Commissioner Pat Kemp so far is unopposed for re-election to her countywide seat in 2020. Commissioner Sandra Murman, term-limited in her district seat, is considering running against her. [Courtesy of Pat Kemp]
    The move appears to be in part a reaction to what some view as anti-growth leanings by the new Democratic majority on the Hillsborough County Commission.
  4. Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan speaks at a news conference Tuesday about a revamped mental health crisis training program for officers and 911 dispatchers. “There is, in my opinion, a crisis going in our society and my concern is not enough people are concerned about it," Dugan said. [TONY MARRERO  |  Tony Marrero]
    All officers will receive 40 hours of training that includes sessions with experts and family members who can provide a personal perspective.
  5. A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy responding to a domestic violence call at the Jasmine Terrace apartments on Skipper Road shot and wounded an unarmed 17-year-old on March 26. The deputy thought the teen was armed at the time. The teen was paralyzed, and the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office has ruled that the deputy will not face charges. [TONY MARRERO   l   Times] [MCKENNA OXENDEN, TONY MARRERO  |  Tony Marrero]
    A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office internal investigation says Deputy Daniel Estanislau’s actions were ‘justified’ in the March 26 shooting.
  6. The Tampa Riverwalk at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in the heart of downtown Tampa.
    Tax increase added nearly $1 million in revenue so far.
  7. Veronica Taylor, (second from left) poses for a portrait with one-year-old Dorsett Reynolds, her daughter Amani Taylor, 10, son Ernest Bogan III, 12, and Muriah Reynolds, 4, at the Centre for Girls in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    The mother of an autistic preteen, 10-year-old and now two foster children wants to make her kids’ dreams a reality.
  8. A line leads to the Flock and Stock at Sparkman Wharf in Tampa. Soon, local coffee vendor Blind Tiger will take over one of the shipping container booths to serve its local roasts. ["TAILYR IRVINE  | TIMES"  |  Times (2018)]
    This will be Blind Tiger’s sixth Tampa Bay location.
  9. Mauntellis Deone Williams, 18, faces one count of first-degree felony murder and two counts of second-degree felony murder. [TONY MARRERO | Times; Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
    Charges are not being sought at this time against the resident of the home, who killed two suspects in self-defense, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
  10. Tampa Fire Rescue performs life-saving measures on a dog found in a house fire Monday. [Tampa Fire Rescue]