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Everybody's Business

Growing law firms make their move

Two firms pull up stakes in historic neighborhoods. ''We need more space,'' says one lawyer.

By MICHAEL CANNING and AMY SCHERZER
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 31, 2003


KENNEDY BUILDINGS GOING TO LAWYERS: Two law firms are leaving their offices in quiet, historic neighborhoods for more space in buildings along bustling Kennedy Boulevard.

Dennis Hernandez and Associates, P.A., is planning to move into the former Unisource Group office furniture building at 3339 W Kennedy Blvd. by July 1.

Hernandez says his firm, which does commercial litigation and personal injury, is looking to more than double its staff within a year. The move will boost their square footage to 10,000 square feet from 3,600 square feet at their current office on Cedar Avenue in Hyde Park North.

The new building, at the northeast corner of Kennedy and Glen Avenue, includes a fireplace and wet bar -- features stipulated by the building's original owner and occupant, local home builder Jim Walter.

Sol Fleischman, one of the building's architects, says the design is contemporary and modeled after early Swiss modernist LeCorbusier. The style choice paid off. In 1983, two years after the building was completed, Fleischman's firm, FleischmanGarcia, received the Tampa/Hillsborough County Planning Commission's design award and the Florida Concrete and Products Association's Outstanding Concrete Structure.

FleischmanGarcia is now supervising the building's renovation for the law office.

Farther east on Kennedy, the law firm of Ramey, Ramey and Kempf plans to move to 701 W Kennedy Blvd., at the northwest corner of Brevard Avenue around Feb. 15. Currently tucked away in a restored Victorian house in Tampa Heights, the insurance defense and bankruptcy firm also intends to expand its staff.

"I hate to leave it," attorney Mark Ramey said. "But we need more space."

The firm will gain about 3,000 square feet in the new digs, last occupied by a Tampa General Hospital Family Care Center. A fire there in June forced the clinic to relocate.

The new building, a 1936 red brick building disguised with stucco facades and modern windows, is undergoing major interior renovations. The exterior will get a new paint job, too. But not to worry. It won't be the pastel yellow that currently covers part of the west facade, which Ramey described as "godawful."

* * *

MARDI GRAS MADNESS COMES TO YBOR: We're not just referring to the Feb. 15 Sant'Yago Knight Parade, but to a new store that can help you participate in the parade. Not to mention Saturday's Gasparilla Invasion, or any other sort of party.

Mardi Gras Madness recently opened its 14th location at 1701 N 20th St., on the southeast corner of Seventh Avenue. The New Orleans-based retailer specializes in party supplies, with a particular emphasis on Mardi Gras-style paraphernalia.

And, naturally, this particular location features a seasonal pirate theme. Inventory includes hats, masks, decorations, wigs and makeup. But the main attraction, is the bead selection, according to owner Dom Carlone. Hailing from New Orleans -- home of the celebration that inspired Gasparilla -- Carlone knows all about beads.

"In New Orleans there's a lot of competition," Carlone said about selling beads. "I'll use the same pricing over here. It'll probably be the best prices in town."

Mardi Gras Madness will also sell other sorts of seasonal stock to match other holidays, such as Halloween and St. Patrick's Day.

* * *

HOPCO TAKING A HOP: The food service marketing company, currently at 3111 W De Leon St. in Southern Pines, is building a new headquarters at 5201 W Laurel St. south of Tampa International Airport.

The building should be ready for occupancy in March, according to Jerry Garcia of the project's Gottfried and Garcia Architects.

No, the building won't have the wavy shapes and psychedelic colors expected from an architect with the same name as the Grateful Dead leader. Instead, it's shaping up to be a modern, contemporary, three-story building with self-contained parking. It will yield 15,650 square feet.

However, we do hope the general grooviness of having an architect named Jerry Garcia isn't lost on Hopco.

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

THE FIND

Team spirit's in the bag

Krewe mates and Bucs fans alike can flaunt their piratical party flair with a skull and crossbones evening purse. Red and black Swarovski crystals sparkle on the tiny treasure, which has a removable shoulder strap and sells for $265. Designed exclusively for Linda Quisenberry Fashion Designer, 618 S MacDill Ave. Call 878-9959.

-- AMY SCHERZER

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