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EDC okays plans for new 'ballet' restaurant

The restaurant would feature ''healthy food'' and the artistic talents of kids attending nearby arts magnet schools.

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 9, 2002


ST. PETERSBURG -- A ballet-themed restaurant featuring "healthy food" and an artistic atmosphere at 29th Street and First Avenue N received approval Wednesday from the Environmental Development Commission.

The EDC approved a special exception and related site plan calling for the conversion of an existing office building into the proposed Ballet Cafe.

The proposed restaurant, which will be next to the Academy of Ballet Arts, was strongly supported by city planners and neighborhood and business associations in Historic Kenwood, Palmetto Park and Grand Central. "The building is strategically in an area that is experiencing a successful revitalization and renovation renaissance, and this proposed facility would further that effort," said planner Jammi Shelton.

The restaurant's co-owners, Kathy Tenewitz and Andrew Skobel, said they hope to attract patrons "who wish to eat very well and not have to spend a great amount of money."

Skobel, a chef, said he plans to feature the artistic talents of children attending nearby arts magnet schools, as well as assist scholarship students enrolled in the adjacent dance studio.

Each month, the EDC meets to consider proposed development projects that require variances or site plan approval, or requests for alley or right-of-way easements. If the requests are not too far out of line with city codes, the EDC will recommend their approval to the city council -- providing the developer includes substantial greenspace and other changes to improve the project's appearance.

Among other items considered Wednesday were:

GARDEN CENTER -- The EDC approved a special exception and related site plan clearing the way for the conversion of a vacant retail store into a garden center and nursery. The former Mr. Donut site at 2601 34th St. S has been vacant for more than nine years.

"When this is done is the neighborhood going to be better than it is today? We think the answer is yes," said city planner Terrill Brown.

Fellow city planner John Hixenbaugh said the proposed garden center is the latest in a series of "nice investments" along 34th Street.

It will have an outdoor sales and display area, while the site will be re-landscaped.

What is the EDC?

The Environmental Development Commission is a citizens board that meets the first Wednesday of each month to review large development projects. The board reviews and approves site plans and has the power to grant exceptions to city codes for elements of projects that do not conform. Decisions of the commission can be appealed within 10 days to the City Council. After approval, the petitioner has the city's permission to go forward, although further scrutiny may be required by other governing agencies.

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