Owner hopes building cleanup starts a trend

Published April 28, 2006

Jimmy Ciaccio isn't going out on a limb when he says much of Florida Avenue through South Seminole Heights is "ugly." So he moved his business there and did something about it.

"I cleaned it up," he said of his recently purchased building at 5020 N Florida Ave., now the home of Van Gogh Signs, Displays and Graphics. "And when you clean up, the people around you clean up."

Ciaccio's civic stance stems from his local roots. He's a Tampa native and grew up in nearby Tampa Heights.

More than believing in the rebounding neighborhood, Ciaccio was taken with the building itself, a 1935 vintage former gas station.

"What can't you like about it? I'm all about curves and beauty," he said of the building's Tudor revival architecture. "It's nice to drive up to a beautiful building.''

A pet groomer and used furniture business previously occupied the site.

Ciaccio and business partner Keith Schaller gutted the building and refurbished it to house their sign and graphics operation, which includes design and production.

Some of their clients include real estate agents, political campaigns, trade show exhibitors, the Ford Amphitheatre and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Van Gogh opened in late February.

PIMP YOUR RIDE ON KENNEDY: Traffic on Kennedy Boulevard will soon get more stylish. Hi-Line Motoring auto customizing will open at 3202 W Kennedy Blvd. within the next three months, owner Melvin Goodman said.

For the past nine years, Goodman has worked out of a warehouse on Gunn Highway in Carrollwood, tricking out the rides of famous athletes with local ties.

Now he wants to expand his business by opening the showroom-workshop across from WTVT-Ch. 13, Fox's local studios.

Hi-Line specializes in high-end custom accessories for many makes of luxury cars. Audio and video, security and exhaust systems can be installed, along with custom cabin fixtures, keyless entry, window tinting, and dropped or raised suspensions.

Hi-Line's car service bay is a refurbished remnant of the building's former incarnation as European Motors, which closed in 2002.

Not that he's one to drop names, but Goodman said he has done a new body kit for New York Yankee Gary Sheffield's Mercedes Benz S550, and custom wheels for boxer Antonio Tarver's Bentley Continental GT, Yankee Derek Jeter's Ferrari 360 Spider and Buccaneer Michael Pittman's Cadillac Escalade.

Hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

FRESH PAINT ON MACDILL: The paint has had more than enough time to dry at 2301 S MacDill Ave., near San Miguel Street. Landlords Jim and Delores Trezevant have been sprucing up the building and trying to lease it out since Elaine's Enchanted Garden closed in 2003.

Finally, in late February, Porter Paints claimed about a third of the 6,250-square-foot building. Two other storefronts are available.

Porter Paints is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m Mondays through Fridays, and 8 to noon Saturdays.

Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call 226-3394, or e-mail mikecanning@hotmail.com.