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City sure complaints about paint will fade

When work at the Municipal Services Center is done, city officials say, residents will approve of the colors.

By SHARON L. BOND

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 28, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Wait until it is finished. You'll like it.

That's the official word on the paint job going on at the city's Municipal Services Center at Central and Fourth Street N downtown.

It includes acorn yellow being applied to the building's vertical panels, a color that has prompted the question, "Who picked the color?" -- an inquiry not meant as a compliment.

The developers of BayWalk, the new downtown entertainment complex, went through the same critique when painters went to work, especially on the yellow/orange shade.

"Don't get me confused with BayWalk," says Jay Pruitt, the building manager for the center, City Hall and the City Hall annex.

He says people who have seen the full color scheme approve of it. (In addition to acorn yellow, it includes body paint of antique ivory and trim of polo blue, an almost-black shade.)

"They're starting to like it," Pruitt said. "Thank God."

He, Bob Jeffrey and architect Bob Bitterli picked the colors. Pruitt said one reason was the Snell Arcade, which sits across Fourth Street from the municipal center.

"We tried to pull some of the color of the Snell Arcade over to us," Pruitt said, and to blend with other buildings downtown such as the Florencia and the Mid Core Garage.

Jeffrey, the city's manager of urban design and historic preservation, described the colors being applied to the center as those that go well with buildings of classical design. They are close to familiar Mediterranean hues, he said.

"The dark blue will pick up the blue in the granite. That was to tie it in. It will give (the building) a little more life than you are used to seeing."

The Municipal Services building was built in 1925. It was half the current size and looked somewhat like Snell Arcade, Jeffrey said.

"It has been significantly altered over time," he said, adding that the original was more stately than the Snell Arcade.

"It had an art deco and Gothic appearance and was the only building like it downtown. It really was a significant building."

The current work started on the building when a piece of granite fell off. The granite panels had been installed by Florida Federal in 1968 when the savings and loan occupied the building, Pruitt said.

Rather than risk other panels falling and possibly injuring pedestrians, officials decided to remove the granite. About 60 percent of it is gone now, Pruitt said. As it is taken off, the new paint is going on. The cost of the job is $515,851, he said, and will take at least another 45 days.

The sidewalk in front of the building has been roped off. It should be available to pedestrians again by the end of the week, Pruitt said.

Workers will go to the back of the building next, then the east side, ending with the side on Fourth Street N. Pruitt said the sidewalk on Fourth Street will be completely blocked during the work, and pedestrians will have to cross Fourth to get between Central and First Avenue N.

"I think people should wait until it is done," Jeffrey said of the paint job. "It's going to look sharp."

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