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Two local districts get Main Street go-ahead


© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 23, 2001

ST. PETERSBURG -- Now it's official.

Secretary of State Katherine Harris last week approved Main Street designations for Grand Central and 22nd Street S, recommended in August by a state advisory committee. The two neighborhoods will receive three years of state help in reviving their historic business districts.

The formal stamp of approval was a virtual given. But Mayor Rick Baker, several City Council members and other city government officials visited two low-key celebrations Wednesday to mark the occasion.

Statewide Main Street Coordinator Laura Lee Fisher, representing Harris' office, noted it was the first time in the program's 16-year history that two districts from the same city had earned Main Street status in the same year.

It took two years of work. Both groups were turned down in 2000 but presented polished applications reflecting better organization for this year's selections.

"If you looked under 'tenacity' in the dictionary, you'd find the 22nd Street group who worked so hard," Baker told about 50 people gathered in a vacant lot, where a temporary stage had been set up across from the Southside Boys and Girls Club.

The mayor and council members repeated the praise later at the Grand Central office, 2438 Central Ave., where about about 25 people gathered on the sidewalk.

"This was a classic case of grass-roots organization," said council member Jay Lasita. "The city does mean business about this going forward. I'll do anything I can to help."

Recruiting new businesses, promoting the areas and enhancing their appearances are among the goals of the groups.

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