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Developers plan to save landmark built in 1925

When Tampa Bay Developers bought the 1925 structure in August, they didn't say what would happen to it.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 25, 2002


THE OLD BUILDING STAYS: "I want to keep this building no matter what," said B.J. Jabbari, as autumn's first clouds passed over his head where once there was a roof.

His company, Tampa Bay Developers, bought a two-story 1925 brick structure at Bayshore and Interbay boulevards in August. Back then, a former owner spoke of plans to level the land for new homes, while the new owners avoided comment.

Now, walking through the building he just gutted, Jabbari enthuses over extensive renovations.

For decades, the Ballast Point landmark had overlooked the corner with swung-open casement windows and a white circular portico. The windows are gone; likewise for the original railing atop the portico and the flat roof. New windows, railing and a pitched roof with red barrel tiles are planned.

Jabbari says the brick exterior will remain, so as not to completely conform to the Mediterranean style common throughout South Tampa. "Everything is stucco wall, tile roof. Stucco wall, tile roof. Stucco wall, tile roof," he said.

Inside, new wood floors and crown molding are on tap. Jabbari hasn't decided whether the 1,581-square-foot building will be converted into an office or a residence. Either way, it won't be subdivided, he said. He says work should be complete by the end of the year.

Tampa Bay Properties also proposes to build trilevel brick townhomes with terraced balconies on the adjoining lots, Jabbari said. They would be dubbed Bay Life Two, after the Bay Life Townhomes his company recently built on S Moody Avenue at Watrous Avenue.

* * *

WHY DID THE ROOSTER CROSS THE ROAD? To get to its new office building on the other side.

Warren Hahn, president of Hahn Engineering, proudly points out that Hahn is German for "rooster." His company is currently crowded into a converted house at the southeast corner of Dale Mabry Highway and San Juan Street.

By the end of November the firm hopes to move across the street to the northeast corner, where new digs await.

The new building has overlooked the busy Virginia Park intersection for several months now. The raised one-story building already boasts a roof of red barrel tiles, peach stucco and white window frames. The addition of black iron railing around the windows will further complement the Mediterranean motif.

An essential break from that will be the pair of Hahn family crests, also the company's logo, that will grace the building's south wall. Featured prominently in the crest is, you guessed it, a red rooster.

Hahn estimates that the project, now two years in the making, will cost $800,000. But he says business has been good. Among other projects, his company has done mechanical and/or electrical engineering for the public schools of Pasco and Hillsborough counties, Pinellas County jails and public parks for Tampa and St. Petersburg.

* * *

HOLD THE ANCHOVIES: It's just not supposed to happen. Pizza houses perched right outside a college campus can't just close up.

Well, it's happened. University of Tampa students just have to cope until the ABC Pizza at 609 W Kennedy Blvd. reopens after remodeling. Though the banner outside says "closed for the summer," the oven won't heat up for at least three months, according to Anthony Fotopoulos, manager of the ABC on Fletcher Avenue.

The Kennedy location is the last in the chain of 15 to be renovated. Though dependable for hearty pizza, Greek salads and cheap pitchers, the restaurant's dim, '70s-vintage decor had to go, said Fotopoulos. Out with the wood paneling and lattice work. In with brighter colors, a new kitchen and brick face peeking through "chipped" stucco, an ABC trademark.

A new fryer will bring cheese sticks, jalapeno poppers and fried shrimp to the menu. Greek chicken, a staple at other ABC locations, will make its first appearance here.

In the meantime, Fotopoulos says he sympathizes with UT's students having to cope without their ABC.

"I went to school at UT," said Fotopoulos, whose father and five uncles founded the Tampa-based chain in 1974. "So I spent a lot of time there. I don't know how I didn't get fat."

Students still rely on ABC for one thing: Many leave their cars in the restaurant's parking lot during the day.

-- Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call 226-3382, or e-mail citytimes@sptimes.com.

THE FIND: Pumpkin patch

Haunt the Creatures of Delight studio to find zany, wild creatures made of colorful rubber plush. Ghoulishly great pumpkins, shown here, sell for $15 to $25. The shop at 1901 N 15th St. stocks bats, witches, ghosts and more. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call 248-4167 for details.

-- AMY SCHERZER

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  • Two say 'I do' amid medieval trappings
  • To my fans, with love
  • Developers plan to save landmark built in 1925
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