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On this road, tacky collides with cheesy

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By MARLENE SOKOL

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 1, 2001


Watch your step, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the architect's tour of New Tampa, where "We Choose Our Paint With Care." Please refrain from smoking and keep all hands inside the bus because, as this is Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, we might be traveling as fast as 30 mph.

Our first buildings of distinction are the Space Savers Self-Storage and the Chevron gas station just north of it at Skipper Road. Both were conceived in tones of red, white and blue, in keeping with the patriotic spirit of this Republican stronghold. Frank Lloyd Wright himself designed the Space Savers, and you can see by its stark lines and boxy form that -- well, Frank Lloyd Wright had issues.

Notice the electric green Hess station at 42nd Street. Can't have too many gas stations in New Tampa, where you can spend more time behind the wheel than at your job.

You might almost miss the City Plaza shopping center to your left, were it not for a Gold's Gym sign that you can see from Miami. Notice how the Lowe's home improvement store is set back from the road with several grandfather oaks, it appears, muting the visual impact of the lumber and laminates.

Similarly, the off-white USAA office tower to your left could almost be mistaken for a cloud formation.

Just past the Interstate 75 overpass is a beautiful, mustard-yellow Space Plus self-storage building and a red Kauffman Tire shop -- again, set back tastefully.

Then, closer to the curb, is a Shell station sharing space with a Taco Bell followed by Walgreens, Chick-Fil-A, Burger King, then the similarly subtle hues of Home Depot and 7-Eleven.

Here's a strip center that some of the locals dubbed "hospital scrubs green." How else are you supposed to find Mattress Discounters? Then, in rapid succession: KFC, Macaroni Grill and Chili's. Are we in Orlando? No, we are still in New Tampa.

An off-road bridge over Trout Creek is a curious concoction of chrome rails and green mesh. Hunter's Green has an elegant entrance and a shopping center sign in -- hello -- hunter green. To your left, is the electric blue Eckerd's and the golden arches of McDonald's; then, to your right an almost colonial-looking Terrace Bank followed by a less interesting First Union in that company's signature green.

Looking left again, we find a strip center painted in coral, purple and, mostly, cheddar-cheese yellow. This particular building has created an uproar, prompting calls to City Hall for a tighter design code. They just don't tolerate garish commercial development on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

A Wal-Mart Supercenter -- again, off-road and lushly landscaped so that the lovely sign is all you see -- followed by Wharton High School, with Coca-Cola logos on the marquee.

And no, you're not mistaken, they are building a Target Supercenter just north of County Line Road.

But we know it's tacky in Pasco.

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