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Morning Watch: JCPenney closing 130-140 stores; overnight fire at Thonotosassa mosque; next steps for Tangerine Plaza; how to slow Bayshore Boulevard traffic

Shoppers and Walmart employees attend the grand opening at the Midtown Walmart in St. Petersburg in January 2014. [Times files]
Shoppers and Walmart employees attend the grand opening at the Midtown Walmart in St. Petersburg in January 2014. [Times files]
Published Feb. 24, 2017

The latest news and developments to help you get ready for the day ahead.

AFTER WALMART'S EXIT, WHAT'S NEXT FOR PLAZA IN ST. PETERSBURG'S MIDTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD?

A local food co-op. A roller-skating rink. A food court. A flea market. An Applebee's restaurant. A Publix grocery store. No one's quite sure what belongs in Midtown's recently vacated anchor lot in the Tangerine Plaza shopping center, as the city of St. Petersburg mulls its next move. Community members met with city leaders, administrators and consultants Thursday at St. Petersburg College's Midtown Center to discuss the fate of Tangerine Plaza, the site where a Walmart Neighborhood Market shut its doors for good on Feb. 6, the second grocery chain to close at that location in four years.

JCPENNEY TO CLOSE 130-140 STORES, INCLUDING LAKELAND DISTRIBUTION CENTER

JCPenney announced plans to close about 130-140 stores nationwide in the next few months, in addition to a distribution center in Lakeland. In a statement posted on the company's website, chairman and CEO Marvin R. Ellison said the decision was made, in part, to "adjust our business to effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers."

COST RISING TO CREATE 'QUIET ZONE' IN DOWNTOWN TAMPA FOR TRAIN HORNS

[Times file, 2015]

A CSX train leaves downtown Tampa along the tracks under the William F. Poe Parking Garage. The sound of train horns warning motorists has become a bigger problem as the number of people living in downtown Tampa has grown in recent years.

[Times file, 2015]

A CSX train leaves downtown Tampa along the tracks under the William F. Poe Parking Garage. The sound of train horns warning motorists has become a bigger problem as the number of people living in downtown Tampa has grown in recent years.

The cost of creating a "quiet zone" for train horns in downtown Tampa started at $2.7 million, but now has risen to more like $3.17 million. And City Hall is covering much of the difference, Richard Danielson writes.

OVERNIGHT FIRE AT THONOTOSASSA MOSQUE UNDER INVESTIGATION

Hillsborough fire crews are investigating an overnight fire at a mosque in Thonotosassa. The fire occurred at an entrance door of the Islamic Society of New Tampa, 15830 Morris Bridge Road, and was quickly put out around 2 a.m., according to 10News WTSP.

MOSI BRINGS BACK PAY FOR A DAY TICKET DEAL STARTING SATURDAY

Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry is bringing back its pay for a day ticket deal starting Saturday, giving guests free admission for the rest of the year with one admission ticket. Sharon Kennedy Wynne has the details.

MARCH COLUMN: COHEN FACES CHALLENGE IN PLAN TO SLOW TRAFFIC ON BAYSHORE

[OCTAVIO JONES | Times]

City plans call for making Bayshore Boulevard more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, in part by reducing the speed limit to 35 mph.

[OCTAVIO JONES | Times]

City plans call for making Bayshore Boulevard more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, in part by reducing the speed limit to 35 mph.

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City Council member Harry Cohen has had a few hot potatoes on his plate recently, and he may be about to get another — proposed changes that would make Bayshore Boulevard more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly but less efficient as a commuter thoroughfare. The plan comes as Cohen, who faces a term limit in his south Tampa district seat in 2019, decides on his political future. He he may consider a citywide seat or the mayor's race, but is most interested in the 2020 Hillsborough clerk of court race.

PINELLAS SCHOOL BOARD TO VOTE ON $10.5 MILLION PROJECT FOR TECHNICAL HIGH SCHOOL

The Pinellas County school district needs its School Board to approve a $10.5 million project for the district's first technical high school at Tuesday's board meeting. Without it, Career Academies of Seminole, where hundreds of students currently commute to every day for two periods of technical classes, can't transition into Career Academies of Seminole Technical High School. Officials originally planned for an August 2017 debut but are now setting their sights on the 2018-19 school year.

WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF PRIEBUS ASKED FBI TO DISPUTE RUSSIA REPORTS

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked a top FBI official to dispute media reports that President Donald Trump's campaign advisers were frequently in touch with Russian intelligence agents during the election, a White House official said.

CAITLYN JENNER CALLS TRUMP TRANSGENDER DECISION 'A DISASTER'

Caitlyn Jenner is taking President Donald Trump to task for his administration's reversal of a directive on transgender access to public school bathrooms. Jenner addresses Trump in a video posted Thursday night on Twitter. She says, "From one Republican to another, this is a disaster."

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