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Downtown center to add boat slips

The Convention Center hopes to accommodate conventioneers who want to take sailing and fishing charters.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 27, 2002

TIE UP AND ORDER: With its abundance of waterfront, Tampa's tally of places where one can pull up, tie up and order a meal has been historically, and surprisingly, low.

The Tampa Convention Center wants to change that, according to John Moors, administrator of convention facilities.

The center plans to add 28 boat slips in March, accommodating recreational vessels over 26 feet on a daily, transient basis. Moors said that would allow conventioneers to take sailing and fishing charters from the center.

His assistant, Jean Metcalf, said the center is applying to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a $300,000 grant for the project.

Meanwhile, six restaurants have opened, including the centerpiece Calypso's Cafe. It has a tropical theme and seats 200 indoors and outside on the water.

Inside on the second floor there's a selection of smaller cafes, including Taste of Ybor, Cucino Rosso, the Sandwich Company and two Gourmet Grills, all run by Aramark.

A Starbucks breakfast nook opened two months ago.

THE TUG THAT TOWS A BUILDING: The imposing metal framework rising at 3670 S Westshore Blvd. will soon be headquarters for Dann Ocean Towing.

The company operates a fleet of 10 tug boats throughout the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean and along the eastern seaboard. Owner Rodney Dann, whose father and brother founded the business in Delaware in 1960, said the headquarters is now in Tampa "because of the weather."

He likes Westshore Boulevard because of its proximity to the airport and his Culbreath Isles home.

When complete, the $500,000 building will boast split face block walls, green glass windows with white frames, and a dramatically pitched metal standing seam roof.

Jim Truex, president of Hammer and Howell Builders, says construction should be complete by year's end.

BEHOLD THE PALACE OF ZAEEM: A man's restaurant is his palace, at least in Ameer Abseh's case.

He's reconfiguring the former Calypso Club (which closed after a brief run as a Spanish/Cuban restaurant) at 3333 S Westshore Blvd. into Zaeem Palace. Abseh says it should open by late October.

His menu will emphasize the healthy staples of the Middle East -- kabobs, basmatis, Lebanese salads and couscous, amid other fare. Lunch, dinner and takeout will be available.

Abseh, a native of Ramallah, West Bank, helped to open Baraka Middle Eastern restaurant at 4812 E Busch Blvd., near Temple Terrace.

Why open in South Tampa, home to relatively few Arabs?

He likes the idea of bringing Middle Eastern food to the otherwise deprived Sunset Park/South Westshore area. Arabic patrons wouldn't go for the restaurant's contemporary interior decor, anyway, he says. And Muslims would disapprove of his selling wine and beer.

Abseh said Zaeem means "chief."

HYDE PARK PROFESSIONAL CENTER: The 33-year-old office building across from the Hyde Park Kash n' Karry is getting a new life.

Vacant for several months, it's facing an extensive makeover. Bought by the RSVP Group in May for $2.1-million, the building at 2111 W Swann Ave. will affect bright Mediterranean exterior features. Once home to the LifeLink Foundation, it will again house medical professionals.

RSVP's David Scher says nearly two-thirds of the space is already leased. Tenants include Envirocap LLC, Hematology and Oncology Consultants of Tampa Bay P.A., Pulmonary Associates of Tampa and dentist Christopher Patrino. Scher said space may be leased to non-medical professionals.

Construction should be completed in November. Potential tenants may call Scher at (727) 460-2185.

PLUM TREE SPROUTS ON DAVIS ISLANDS: Meanwhile, renovations continue on another building that David Scher co-owns, a partition of 215 E Davis Blvd. Once a part of the real estate agency Smith and Assoc., it will transform into the Plum Tree, a takeout-only Chinese and sushi restaurant.

Scher expects an early November opening.

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