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Shop space at condos sold for $600,000

Fanitsa Meehan will open two shops on the ground floor of Beach Drive's Florencia.

By LENNIE BENNETT

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 12, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Tony Beach Drive will likely get tonier come fall with two new luxury goods shops scheduled to open in September.

Interior designer and businesswoman Fanitsa Meehan has contracted to buy the 3,000 square feet of retail space, which is divided into two areas on the ground floor of Florencia, an upscale condominium near the downtown waterfront, for a little more than $600,000.

photo
[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
Fanitsa Meehan, shown here with a museum reproduction of a mask of King Tutankhamen, will move her Christmas shop into the Florencia and open a home furnishings and accessories shop.

Mrs. Meehan said the stores will represent "a several-million-dollar investment" by the time she outfits and stocks them. She plans to use the two spaces, divided by the Florencia lobby, as separate businesses. One will be Fanitsa's Ultimate Christmas Shoppe, which she is moving from 3909 Central Ave. The second enterprise will be new, probably named Fanitsa's Ultimate Home Shoppe, which will sell home furnishings and decorative accessories.

Both, she says, will offer high-end items aimed at the well-to-do residents who will occupy Florencia and two other nearby condominiums, the Cloisters and Vinoy Place.

"If it's everywhere else," Mrs. Meehan says, "we don't want it. The stores will be sumptuous and exquisite."

The Christmas Shoppe will sell, year-round, holiday decorations that will range from midpriced trinkets to life-size, hand-crafted Santas for as much as $7,000. She said she is dropping some of the less exclusive lines she sells at her current Christmas shop. Part of it will be a children's area, which will display examples of small-scale furniture and one-of-a-kind playhouses that Mrs. Meehan will design.

The home shop will sell crystal, silver and china accessories and also will have a men's furnishings section with fine leather and alligator accessories.

Lee Allen, vice president of finance for JMC, the company building Florencia, said the sale price of $200 per square foot is "high for retail here, but then again, it's on Beach Drive in a new building. We may have underpriced it, it sold so quickly. We never had to advertise. But we're excited about Fanitsa being there."

Though most retail stores traditionally are leased from landlords, selling the retail space in a residential condominium is not unusual, Allen said. JMC is also building a 50,000-square-foot office building next door, but may not sell it.

"Why keep that one?" he said. "Because it's a lot bigger and might make financial sense. We're discussing the option of moving our offices there."

The Florencia condominiums are scheduled for occupancy in early June, Allen said. Of the 51 units in the 21-story building, about 80 percent have been sold, including both penthouses. Prices range from $435,000 to about $2-million.

The retail space won't be ready that soon, so Mrs. Meehan, who is already stockpiling merchandise for both stores, is aiming for a September opening.

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