By JULIE CHURCH
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 1, 2001
First it was the Holiday Inn Express. Now the developer of a nearby parcel announced he has reached an agreement with Marriott International to build a 90-room Courtyard by Marriott on the southeast corner of Tampa Road and St. Petersburg Drive. This area is viewed by many to be the gateway to downtown Oldsmar.
"You can expect to see a construction sign on that property within the next couple of weeks, and construction should begin in late September or early October," said Jim Woods, director of development of Menna Development and Management.
The Clearwater company plans to build two restaurants on the site in addition to the hotel, but Woods said there are no contracts in place for the restaurant properties.
"Several national (restaurant) chains have expressed strong interest in both properties," Woods said.
He expects to complete negotiations with restaurants for the 6,400- and 7,200-square-foot buildings within the next 30 days.
The timing should coincide with the opening of the new Holiday Inn Express. Developer Paul Simone said that if all goes as planned, that hotel will open April 24.
The 81-room Holiday Inn Express will feature 46 suites, 35 regular rooms, a swimming pool, a fitness center, a hair salon and a 2,000-square-foot conference room. Room rates will range from $89 to $129 per night.
A 22,500-square-foot office building also is under construction on the property.
One of the target markets Simone hopes to reach is people coming into town to compete at the Tampa Bay Skating Academy. Simone says that hiring Diane Paul, former district representative for the skating academy and 17 other skating rinks, as general manager for the Holiday Inn Express should help him accomplish that goal.
"I am very pleased to have her," Simone said.
Simone will make customer service a priority at the new hotel.
"I want people to say, "Holy mackerel, what a Holiday Inn,' " he said. "We're going all-out here."
A grand opening celebration is planned for approximately 30 days after the hotel opens for business.
Simone indicated that the recent hotel boom in Oldsmar may not stop with two hotels. He said he is looking at land across Tampa Road from the Holiday Inn Express for a possible third hotel in the area.
Oldsmar AARP, Chapter 4456, will meet Monday at Harborside Health Center, 3865 Tampa Road, in the Social Room at 6 p.m. Lesley Yager, coordinator for the Oldsmar Cultural Arts Foundation, will speak at 7 p.m. Reservations for dinner are required.
AARP will also be holding a yard sale Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Oldsmar Florist, 3906 Tampa Road. For information on either of these events or to make a reservation for dinner, call (813) 855-4070.
Free tax assistance is available through April 11 at the Oldsmar Public Library, 101 State St., in the first floor meeting room.
Basic tax returns for limited-income, elderly or non-English-speaking people will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Volunteers will be at the library Tuesdays from 3 to 7 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For information, call (813) 855-5940.
A spelling bee will be held for students in second through fifth grades at Oldsmar Elementary School Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
The spelling bee was organized by student achievement specialist Susan Brelsford to help promote student achievement. The winners in each class will represent their class in the finals on Thursday. First-place winners will receive medals, and others will win ribbons.
The location for a teen dance Friday has been changed.
The sock hop will be 7 to 10:30 p.m. at the Oldsmar Art Centre, 402 St. Petersburg Drive. The cost is $2 with a recreation card and $3 without. For information, call (813) 855-4211.
A new shopping plaza may soon occupy 126 acres of vacant land at the northeast corner of Hillsborough Avenue and Race Track Road, just outside the city limits in Hillsborough County.
Monroe's Prestige Group Inc. is seeking a rezoning so it can build North Bay Commerce Center.
The plaza likely will house offices, warehouses, retail shops and a grocery store, said vice president Ira Waitz.
According to the petition, which asks for a planned development designation, the plan includes 125,000 square feet for commercial uses on 18 acres, 182,000 square feet for high intensity highway commercial uses on 18 acres and 440,000 square feet for light industrial uses on nearly 90 acres.
The company plans three entrances for both Hillsborough and Race Track.
A Hillsborough County zoning hearing master is scheduled to hear the petition, No. 01-0575, on June 4.
-- Staff writer Eve Leberson contributed to this report. If you have news or photos about Oldsmar schools, churches, businesses, neighborhood groups, community organizations or people, contact Julie Church at the North Pinellas Times. You can call her at (727) 445-4229, e-mail material to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail material to North Pinellas Times, 34342 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor, FL 34684.