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Shops make way for a makeover

SouthTown Center, a $10-million redevelopment project, will replace some of South Tampa's oldest commercial buildings.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 22, 2003

DALE MABRY/NEPTUNE EXODUS: Downtown South Tampa is getting a makeover. But the process has forced the relocation of nearly all the businesses on the southwest corner of Dale Mabry Highway and Neptune Street toward Church Avenue.

SouthTown Center will rise on this 3.7-acre site. It's a $10-million redevelopment project that will replace one of South Tampa's oldest collection of commercial buildings. The center will have four buildings reminiscent of early 20th-century brick commercial vernacular buildings and added parking.

When developer Capstone McCann bought the property in July 2002, the 12 existing business tenants were given notice that their rent would increase if they decided to lease part of SouthTown Center.

Four of those businesses have already moved: Neptune Records a few doors south at 1517 S Dale Mabry, Little Peeps to 2221 S Dale Mabry, Scrapbook Shoppe to 3662 S West Shore Blvd. and Bertha's Nutrition Shoppe to 1536 S Dale Mabry.

Another four are planning to move: Kalupa's Bakery to 2602 S MacDill Ave. in early October, Lightbulbs Unlimited to 2206 S Dale Mabry on Oct. 1 and Let's Have a Party to 1541 S Dale Mabry in mid September. Pilates Bodies owner Lisa Tobias says she'll move Sept. 1 to either Henderson Boulevard and San Miguel Street or Dale Mabry and San Nicholas Street.

Three businesses have closed and not relocated: Passing Fancy, City Side bar and Sport Shak Grille and Bar.

That just leaves McNatt's Cleaners. Vice president Henry McNatt says he likes having a store near the Dale Mabry/Neptune intersection and, if possible, wants to stay.

Capstone Group vice president David Martin wouldn't comment on specific future tenants but said he's hoping the center will have mostly retail with some offices and one or two restaurants.

Demolition to make way for the 44,000-square-foot project should start in October, he said. Construction should be complete in May 2004.

TWO YBARS GONE, TWO MORE ARRIVING: Bar Tampa and Tahiti Joe's, two bars on Seventh Avenue and 14th Street in Ybor City, will soon be succeeded.

North Carolina nightclub owner Jeff Stone is leasing and converting the turn-of-the-century brick buildings into themed nightclubs.

The former Bar Tampa, on the southeast corner, will become Epic, which Stone says will be a high energy, upscale club. Look for art deco furniture and fixtures, a stainless steel bar and the original interior brick wall face.

The 8,000-square-foot club will be divided into two parts, one with an 800-square-foot dance floor and the other with a lounge and lots of couches.

Across 14th Street, the Wave Hog will take the place of Tahiti Joe's. The former nightclub wanted to make you think you were in Margaritaville. The Wave Hog will try to make you think you're under a pier.

Stone says the ceiling over the dance floor and most of the club will be decorated with faux pier planks. Imitation pier pillars and water effect lighting on the ceiling will complete the illusion.

Stone also wants to make it look like the bar is under a mangrove swamp. "But I'm still trying to figure out how to do that," he said with a laugh.

The club will be outfitted with at least 15 screens, showing music videos and sports.

The second floor of the 1897 building, which was the original site of the Blue Ribbon grocery store, is also being refurbished. Stone intends to use it as office space for Southpoint Diversified Inc., his Raleigh, N.C., company that runs 10 nightclubs throughout North Carolina.

NEW ANGLE ON ANGLER'S SHOP: Dan Starkey doesn't see the point in going to one store for the fishing equipment and to another for fishing apparel. So he's put it all under one roof of Angler's Addiction, 3511 S Manhattan Ave., near El Prado Boulevard.

Besides all the usual fishing gear - rods, reels, lures, charts - he also has an extensive selection of fishing clothes. Starkey features his own line, which carries the Angler's Addiction logo along with local artists' renderings of fish leaping from local waters.

Many of the clothes are made with microfibers, a polyester-based material that outperforms cotton in the moisture-wicking and water weight retention categories.

The 1,200-square-foot store also repairs rods and reels, spools line and books fishing charters. Starkey gives monthly fishing seminars.

The store is open Tuesdays through Fridays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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

THE FIND: Tuffets

How would you like your tuffet? Tall enough to sit at your vanity? Low enough to rest your feet? Custom tuffets are priced according to size, fabric and trim at Jo's Trims and More, 4328 El Prado Blvd. Call 477-2660.

- AMY SCHERZER

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