1. Opinion

St. Petersburg's Warehouse Arts District is drawing more businesses

Published Jul. 7, 2012

Moving a business or gallery to the Warehouse Arts District seems to be a growing trend. The owners of Zen Glass Studios departed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and moved to 600 27th St. S late last year. In February, Charlie Parker Pottery opened a 3,600 square foot space at 2724 Sixth Ave. S. Now, CrossFit9 is set to join them with its official grand opening at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at 2727 Sixth Ave. S. The "back to basics fitness" gym first opened at 9 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. S in 2008.

Who could blame them. The area borders trendy the Grand Central Business District and Historic Kenwood. The area hosts a very popular monthly arts walk that draws a hip crowd to its corridors putting hundreds of feet on the streets.

The southeastern edge of the Grand Central District, which is now the Warehouse Arts District, is a prime area for gentrification.

The boundaries for the area overlap parts of the Dome Industrial Park, the Deuces Live and includes a stretch of Grand Central.

"There are quite a few that are calling, and I keep referring them to Jill Plaice (a local real estate agent)," said Shrimatee Ojah-Maharaj, a manager in the city's planning and economic development department. Plaice and Sarah J. Parker, another real estate agent helping the displaced Salt Creek artists, have been busy showing available spaces in the area.

Since learning about the pending sale of the Salt Creek Artworks building, several investors have looked to the Warehouse Arts District to create studio spaces for artists. But they are not alone.

There are a growing number of artists and entrepreneurs interested in renting and rehabbing old buildings in the district.

One of the big differences now is that artists have grown wary gentrifying an area only to be priced out of it later. So this time, many are looking for help from the city to purchase dilapidated properties they can rehab.

• • •

Speaking of trending: Keep Saint Petersburg Local has been turning heads since its launch party in early February.

KSPL provides advocacy, education and support to locally owned, independent businesses.

When it first arrived on the scene, the group brought us Free Hugs Day. Now it's urging residents to support local businesses through a contest launched a week ago to find St. Pete's Greatest Local Lover.

Keep in mind that the city is teeming with popular groups with thousands of fans expressing love for the Sunshine City. But this effort encourages residents to show their love by opening their purses and wallets.

"Every dollar spent with locally owned businesses generates over three times the local economic impact as compared to spending with national chains," states the group's website.

The contest runs through July 15, and the community is urged to spend at Keep Saint Petersburg Local's member businesses. The winner will be the individual or business spending the most during the contest period.

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For details, check the group's website, keepsaintpetersburg

• • •

The Republican National Convention is just seven weeks away.

As the Tampa Bay region prepares for the onslaught of delegates, journalists and demonstrators, two smaller groups will take to the stage this week with an unexpected wrinkle.

In what some might view as art imitating life, a reading set for Tuesday evening allows the audience to take part — as the jury — in an event organized by the Occupy groups out of St. Pete and Bradenton. The pairing of the Occupy St. Pete's Elders and the "Occuplayers" of Occupy Bradenton will host the "Trial of Goldman Sachs."

Just who are the "elders" and "occuplayers"?

The "Elders" are experienced activists, who range in age from 50 to 91.

"Occuplayers" are members of the Arts and Culture Working Group of Occupy Bradenton.

The free event is set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Studio@620 at 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg.

Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at or at (727) 893-8874.


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