Tampa Bay journalist Alex Pickett adds some valuable perspective to the St. Petersburg Times‘ story about attempts by city leaders to address the dilapidated 600 block of Central Avenue:
So what’s our fair city to do? Well, they want to “revitalize” the block. But they don’t mention that back before 2006, this block was already thriving with unique local small businesses.
That is, before another developer — Gerald R. Pacella of 601 Central Ave LLC — came in, bought that part of the block and evicted all the shops to construct a bunch of condos. Condos that never saw the light of day. Another developer, Thomas Gaffney of Oldsmar Land Holding Group, bought the property in 2008. His intentions are not yet known, but some Google sleuthing shows his company likes to hold on to property and then sell it to the highest bidder. He’s already mentioned to the Times that he has no plans to refurbish the storefronts.
Here’s one question: Are plans to fill the empty storefronts with art studios simply a stopgap until the market improves and Gaffney decides to raze the block? And if so, what incentives are the city and/or Gaffney offering to entice temporary tenants?