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    Cadillac dealership to replace eyesore

    Officials applaud Dew Cadillac's plans to turn a run down grocery store site into a showplace dealership.

    By MAUREEN BYRNE

    © St. Petersburg Times, published December 15, 2000


    SEMINOLE -- Plans are in the works for a Cadillac dealership to open at the former Kash n' Karry store on Park Boulevard, a community eyesore that has been vacant for 10 years.

    Dew Cadillac in St. Petersburg, one of the oldest Cadillac dealerships in the country, is planning on relocating the 85-year-old business to Seminole.

    Owner Richard Dimmitt could not be reached for comment Thursday.

    "They're planning to build a complete dealership," said Bill Vola, the city's building official. "They intend to make it a showplace. They want to make it look like something they can be proud of and really impress the community."

    Vola said the company plans to have a showroom, an office building, a service center and a sales area on the site at 10884 Park Blvd.

    Site plans filed with the city show a trailer, which will house temporary offices, will be located in the northwest corner of the property. The trailer, which will be surrounded by large potted plants for decorative purposes, will be moved there in a couple of weeks. Construction should begin within the next six months, Vola said.

    Vola said he is not sure whether the existing building is going to be renovated or torn down. The 30,000-square-foot structure, which is in the heart of the city's business district, has become a target for vandals, a canvas for graffiti artists and a haven for the homeless.

    With its boarded-up doors and weather-beaten paint, it has been a problem for many residents and city officials.

    Mayor Dottie Reeder said she is thrilled that the property will finally have an occupant. "This is really a breath of fresh air," she said.

    Reeder said the empty building has been a thorn in her side almost her entire political career. She was elected to the City Council in 1989 and has served as mayor since 1995.

    Reeder said ever since the grocery moved out of the building in 1990, she has been dogged with questions about what could be done about the property. Pinellas County records show the property is owned by John-Mary Enterprises of Tampa. A secretary at John-Mary Enterprises said the company could not comment on the sale until it is final.

    In the past, the owners said they wanted a well-known business interested in a long-term lease.

    The property, which includes two parcels, is valued for tax purposes at about $834,000. Assessed values are generally about 85 percent of market value.

    In May, Dimmitt Cadillac in Clearwater bought Dew Cadillac from Page Harris III, a Dew family member, and Steve McFarlin, who was the general manager at Dew.

    Dimmitt told the St. Petersburg Times then that he was planning a major renovation to return the St. Petersburg dealership at 224 Third St. S to its 1920s boom-era look. He said the face lift would take about 18 months and wouldn't begin for six to eight months.

    - Staff writer Maureen Byrne can be reached at 445-4163 or at byrne@sptimes.com.

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