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Hyde Park Village gets nod for small grocery

But a parking lot at the Swann Avenue shopping center did not gain the approval of the architectural review board.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 12, 2002

TAMPA -- Old Hyde Park Village can't build a parking lot behind its movie theaters, but might be able to bring in a grocery store.

That was the decision of Tampa's Architectural Review Commission after more than four hours of debate Wednesday night.

The action disappointed some homeowners who live near the shopping center on Swann Avenue. They fear a grocery store will increase traffic, pollution and noise.

"It would completely alter the character of the community," said Frank Urso, who lives steps away from the theaters. "The rear of most grocery stores is not an attractive site."

The village owners had requested that the board expand the list of possible uses for some parts of the shopping center to accommodate more tenants. The center has struggled to fill space, including the former Jacobson's, because old zoning restricts the use.

The owners also expect the theaters will move out because of increased competition in South Tampa.

"I have a dire situation in Hyde Park Village," said Rob Acker, development director for Madison Marquette, which owns the center. "I can't move aggressively to find the right tenants."

Deleting the parking lot likely means the village can't pursue a large grocery store, such as Publix. A big grocery store wants lots of convenient parking close to its door.

Commissioners, however, opted to leave a grocery store in the list of uses in case the owners could find a small, specialty market, as many residents have requested.

They banned tennis courts, a pool hall or an arcade, and limited office space to the second floor. They allowed several other uses, including single- and multi-family homes, stores and restaurants.

Their recommendations go to the City Council for a final decision Sept. 26.

Audience members cautioned against giving the developer a wide range of options. Once in place, the zoning would apply to any future tenants.

"We were there first," said longtime resident Cindy Hardy. "I don't see why we need continued retail and commercial development encroaching on our neighborhoods."

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