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Real estate agent takes the lead in renovations

The building owner hopes others in the Fourth Street N area are inspired by the Spanish-style work he is having done.

By SHARON L. BOND

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 17, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- The building at 918 Fourth St. N doesn't have a name, but it is being renovated inside and out and will have a facade reminiscent of buildings now under construction at BayWalk downtown.

That is the plan of Felix D. Fudge of Bridgeport South Realty Advisors Inc. He now owns the building, and while he declined to disclose the sales price, county property records show the two-story building sold for $255,000 late last year.

"This is the first one on this side of town of any consequence," Fudge said of the extensive renovation. "Nobody is really doing anything south of 22nd Avenue."

Fudge will locate his real estate office in about a third of the top floor. He said someone is looking at the rest of the office space but no leases are signed. The ground floor will be retail, he said.

In the past, the building has housed hair salons, swim shops and decorating businesses, among others.

Workers now are installing grill work for a parapet on the building that will hide air conditioning and heating units.

"It will look similar to what they did downtown," Fudge said.

Arched parapets lend a Spanish/Mediterranean look and are on many of the buildings at BayWalk, the new entertainment/retail center in downtown that opens the first week of November.

Fudge said the 8,500-square-foot building should be finished in the next 60 days. He defined the change in the building by pointing to a Fourth Street neighbor, Lasting Impressions Home Gallery. The up-scale home decorating business rehabilitated an older building that was in need of a fresh face.

Fudge also complimented Jeffrey and Katrina Hess for the upgrade on their building at 1131 Fourth St. N. The building houses Hess Fine Art, their business, and four other businesses.

Fudge, who has been in commercial real estate for 15 years, hopes his renovation might inspire other building owners along his area of Fourth Street N, from 22nd Avenue back south. But he suspects it will take more.

"What's going to prompt others to do anything is the fact that North Shore and Uptown have really good neighborhood associations. They are doing a pretty good job in monitoring homes in the neighborhood."

Probably the single best thing that could happen to spruce up buildings would be more historic designations, Fudge said.

No estimate was available on the cost of the renovation or what he will charge per foot to lease, Fudge said.

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