John's Pass Village firming up improvements
By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 12, 2000
MADEIRA BEACH -- Reconstruction of a John's Pass Village building destroyed in a February fire is well under way as city officials also rush to complete a $1.6-million village facelift by early next year.
A hole in the middle of the line of tourist shops is beginning to fill with concrete and steel -- the skeleton of a new two-story building with elevator.
Because the original building, owned by Paul Straubinger, was ruined, federal regulations required that its replacement be raised, flood-proofed, and made accessible to handicapped people.
Mike Maxemow, city director of community services, estimated that the new Straubinger building will take three months to complete.
An adjacent building, owned by Mordechay and Shoshana Einy, is nearly ready to reopen, according to Maxemow. The fire damaged or destroyed 12 village businesses.
Meanwhile, the village's massive renovation is nearing completion as contractors rush to put the final touches on utilities underground, paving, brick sidewalks and landscaping. About 22,000 square feet of brick pavers have been installed. Underground utility conduits, planters, irrigation and curbing are virtually complete, Maxemow said.
All work will stop Dec. 15 and not begin again until early January. At that time, contractors will concentrate on finishing the front of the village boardwalk area. The latest phase of the beautification began in July and is expected to be complete by the end of January.
The final phase of the project will include streetscaping and the placing of utility conduits underground along 129th Avenue to Pelican Lane, 128th Avenue to Boardwalk Place, and along Fisherman's Alley. That work is not expected to begin until fall 2001 or summer 2002.
Improvements to the pedestrian underpass at John's Pass Bridge are on hold until the state Department of Transportation decides the future of the bridge.
Most of the renovations are being financed by grants and Penny for Pinellas tax revenues.
An unrelated project, the refurbishing of the city-owned Tango Bay, is also under way. Last week, City Manager Mike Bonfield told commissioners that the project may cost an additional $15,000 because of previously unsuspected building deterioration that needs repair.
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