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Haines Road plans end Monkey business

Published May 9, 2007


LEALMAN - The Monkey Bar, a local haunt for more than 70 years, succumbed to the wrecking ball Monday to make way for improvements to Haines Road.

The county's multimillion-dollar project for Haines Road is still in the planning stages, but it includes widening lanes from 12 to 14 feet, creating bicycle lanes, and installing curbs and gutters.

The plans, unveiled in May 2005, brought objections from many businesses along Haines whose owners were worried about the loss of income when the county right of way becomes streets and sidewalks. Many businesses used that space for parking.

One of the worst offenders was the Monkey Bar, at 6177 Haines Road. Sitting on a triangular lot at Haines and 62nd Avenue N, the bar had a parking area mostly on county right of way and that was so tight that rear bumpers were almost in Haines when cars parked there. The close proximity to the road was dangerous for another reason. Cars occasionally hit the one-story building.

Monkey Bar owners Wally and Dawn Palmer were incensed in 2005 when they discovered the plans to widen Haines. They had bought the bar in 2004 for $80, 000, and said the seller had not disclosed the proposed project.

Pinellas County came to the rescue in January when it bought the property, which had an assessed value of $94, 500, for $350, 000.

The bar closed near the end of January, with some of its customers and employees finding a new home at Club 54 - the former Cell Block - at the Days Inn, 2595 54th Ave. N.

A sidewalk is planned along 62nd Avenue from U.S. 19 to 30th Street. A traffic signal will be put in at 28th Street and 54th Avenue N.

This month, the county said the project is still in the design phase and construction would not likely begin until late 2008.

The cost of all improvements along Haines were originally estimated at $8.5-million, with most coming from the Penny for Pinellas sales tax, and some from transportation impact fees and grants from the State Department of Transportation.

In 2005, county officials estimated construction on the 1.5-mile-long project would begin in December 2006 and be finished in December 2007.

[Last modified May 8, 2007, 20:35:14]

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