tampabay.com

Landmark building to be demolished, rebuilt

By MiCHAEL CANNING
Published February 16, 2007


Two established businesses in Seminole Heights are building new facilities right where they stand - Air Masters of Tampa Bay and Adams and Jennings Funeral Home.

A neighborhood landmark since 1948, the funeral home's steeply pitched rooflines at 6900 N Nebraska Ave. will soon be demolished. Replacing them will be a more contemporary building next door, until recently the funeral home's parking lot.

Adams and Jennings general manager A.J. Russo said the news has been met with mixed emotions in the community. But he said the old building was no longer suiting their needs.

"As much as we like it as far as the historical aspect," said Russo, "it's just time we brought the neighborhood something new and improved."

Among the improvements in the new building will be audio and video systems that will show photos and videos of the deceased. There will also be room for two chapels instead of one. Russo said the new 5,700-square-foot building will be about a 900-square-foot increase.

The old building, with its distinctive Tudor revival architecture, has always looked more like a home than a business. But Russo said it's always been a business, starting life as a tea shop, then a restaurant, then a real estate office before Ed Jennings moved his funeral home there in 1963. Jennings founded his business across the street in 1953. Longtime employee Mike Adams bought the funeral home in 1990, spurring the name change.

Some of the homey aspects of the old building will be incorporated in the new. Wood paneling and coach lights will be salvaged. But most importantly, the cat on the roof will also be saved and installed on the new roof.

Russo said the porcelain feline figure has overlooked the Nebraska and Sligh avenues intersection since 1948, and will regain its sentry post.

The project, including the demolition of the old building for a new parking lot, should be complete in May or June, according to Russo.

Air Masters of Tampa Bay has made do with an old concrete block building and trailer at 4822 N Florida Ave. since 2001. John De Young, owner of the air conditioner sales and service company, now plans a new 6,000-square-foot warehouse with an office there.

Air Masters vacated the site on Dec. 15 to make way for demolition. De Young expects to move back into the new digs sometime in May.

In the meantime his business has its headquarters in Drew Park.

Still Little Peeps

Bigger Peeps. Not-So-Little Peeps. Ashley Moran has given those names a passing thought, but for now her store will remain Little Peeps - even though it's expanding into a neighboring store front.

The 1,000-square-foot expansion will allow the infant and toddler clothing shop at 2221 S Dale Mabry Highway to grow up a little.

Moran and business partner Patti Thomas plan to add clothes for sizes up to those for 10-year- olds. Furniture, gifts, and dcor for that age group will also be added, plus McLaren strollers and shoes for infants.

Moran hopes the move, which will close the store for about two business days, will happen in early to mid March. The empty store front was recently home to Dickies Workwear, which closed a few months ago.

The vacant storefront one more door over, the former Ed and Eddie's Homemade Ice Cream, might soon be reoccupied. Jinny Sass, spokeswoman for property owner Gaspar Properties, said a restaurant franchise she wouldn't name is close to signing a deal.

Banking on Henderson

American Momentum Bank opened its second location Feb. 5 at 3708 Henderson Blvd., a few doors down from Fresh Market.

Cozee Smith, the bank's marketing director, said the office will offer a wide range of commercial and personal banking services and products, including checking, savings, lines of credit, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, home and auto loans, and a variety of commercial and treasury management needs.

American Momentum organized last year as the highest capitalized startup bank in Florida history. Before its first office opened at Kennedy and West Shore boulevards in October 2006, it was briefly named American Commerce Bank.

Another branch opened Feb. 6 at BayWalk in St. Petersburg. New locations are planned to open within six weeks at 15150 N Florida Ave., and on the first-floor lobby beneath the flagship office's second-floor perch inside One Urban Centre at Kennedy and West Shore.

American Momentums are also planned for Naples, Sarasota and Orlando in the coming months, Smith said.

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

 

. the find

Fried Pepsi

The latest battered treat to tantalize Florida State Fairgoers won't quench your thirst, just your curiosity. So go ahead and try fried Pepsi-Cola, balls of dough mixed with the bubbly beverage syrup and dropped in the deep fryer. Drizzle on more syrup, sprinkle with cinnamon and top with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. The doughnut-hole-shaped confections sell for $4. If you're game for more deep-fried delights, you'll find fried Oreo cookies, Milky Way and Snickers bars and gooey fried Twinkies. Thank goodness the fair only comes once a year.

Amy Scherzer