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Retirement center set for facelift

By SHARON L. BOND and PIPER JONES CASTILLO
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG -- The historic Princess Martha, first a renowned tourist hotel and now a retirement center at 411 First Ave. N, is slated for updating by its new owner, one of the William R. Hough companies.

William R. Hough & Co. is the longtime municipal underwriter and financial adviser. Its WRH Princess Martha LLC bought the hotel at the end of October for $3.47-million. Plans are to keep it an independent-living retirement center.

"It's a little dated inside," said Brad Salzer, executive vice president of WRH Income Properties. "We want to beef up some of the amenities. It's a little tired right now."

Salzer said the new owner probably would try to move away from seasonal tenants in the 250-room retirement center, which now is 81 percent occupied. Work will be done on the fitness center, but there probably won't be a room-by-room renovation. The medical office probably will be moved to available commercial space, freeing up a residential room.

The Princess Martha, a local historic landmark, opened in 1924. It was first called the Mason after its first owner and then renamed for Martha Muir, whose husband, William Muir, bought it in 1926.

Echelon moves in downtown

ST. PETERSBURG -- Echelon Development LLC has moved downtown after giving the three-story building at 235 Third St. S a makeover inside and out.

"We were running out of room at Carillon," said Mark Stroud, vice president for commercial development.

Echelon has the top two floors with another of its companies. Aveda is the main ground floor tenant. The company sells all-natural cosmetics and skin and haircare items. It also will operate the Aveda Institute for training cosmetologists and Aveda Academy for advanced training. The three businesses are owned by Tom and Jim Petrillo.

Neighborhood Times erred in an item published Jan. 29 by identifying Tom Petrillo as the building's owner.

The building was occupied by Accenture Ltd. When it downsized in the first quarter of 2002, the consulting and project management company consolidated its employees in nearby McNulty Station, Stroud said.

Echelon is the main developer of the Carillon office park in north St. Petersburg. Stroud said its offices moved to the park at the end of 1998. The company shared a large building and had offices scattered throughout it.

Clients in that building needed more room, as did Echelon, so the company moved downtown to this building, which it has owned a long time, Stroud said.

Art consignment shop opens

GULFPORT -- Richard Shepard and Rodney Kittle have opened E Z Gallery at 3119 Beach Blvd. Shepard and Kittle's retail experience includes operating the Male Stop and VIP Cruises and Tours, both in downtown St. Petersburg, as well as the Cook's Bookery in South Pasadena.

The core of the business will be art sold on consignment, ranging from $60 photographs to limited edition prints for $1,700. Works include some by French painter Linda LeKinff and abstract Russian artist Anatole Krasnyansky. Art by local artists will also be sold.

E Z Gallery will be open Wednesday through Sunday.

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