Saturday, November 18, 2017
News Roundup

Orange Belt project gets green light for Warehouse Arts District

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG — A project that a developer labeled "an experiment in enlightened capitalism" got the green light from the City Council on Thursday. The Orange Belt Station project promises to bring a craft distillery and, perhaps, an alternative weekly newspaper to the Warehouse Arts District.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Creative Loafing, craft rum distillery could be the tenants for new 'town square' in St. Petersburg's Warehouse Arts District

The council also received updates on the Manhattan Casino negotiations and Commerce Park project along 22nd Street S, known as "The Deuces," which have divided the black community and become a major issue in the mayoral race between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker.

Howard and Lucinda Johnston are spearheading the Orange Belt development, which would create a craft distillery run by their son, Chris Dixon. The site at 600 26th St. S would include space for artists' lofts and galleries and office space for what the Johnstons hope will be occupied by Creative Loafing, the alternative newspaper.

The Johnstons said they wanted to nurture struggling artists and businesses and would exercise "voluntary rent control."

The Orange Belt project was the first of three potential developments south of Central Avenue that have rankled some, but are supported by Kriseman as spark plugs for revitalizing the poor and predominantly black neighborhoods in Midtown, a key voting battleground.

Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin said all three proposals will create at least 100 jobs.

"We celebrate this. We're proud of this. We're nowhere near done," Tomalin said. "The onus is on us as stewards of our resources to make sure these people deliver on their promises."

The projects were criticized by former mayoral candidate Theresa "Momma Tee" Lassiter for being the latest example of gentrification in Midtown at the expense of the black community.

"This means war," said Lassiter, who said she had gathered hundreds of signatures of residents opposed to the mayor's plan to put a Floribbean restaurant in the Manhattan Casino at 642 22nd St S.

The Orange Belt deal with the city grants a 25-year lease of the city-owned property, a former brownfields site, at $1,200 a month. The Johnstons and city real estate officials said they expect to eventually buy the property for the $185,000 appraised price.

Council member Ed Montanari said he thought that was a sweetheart arrangement.

"I'm all for commerce, but I also want to protect this city's property," he said. "This just looks to me like we're giving this property away for $1,200 a month."

The Johnstons have donated $2,500 to Kriseman's re-election campaign, although Montanari did not mention that fact. Montanari supports Baker in his bid to unseat Kriseman.

Council member Karl Nurse said building on the environmentally compromised site, once occupied by Atherton Oil Co., was a good use of the land.

"I'm trying to figure out what the gift is here. I think at some point you just say thank you," said Nurse, who has endorsed Kriseman.

Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, whose district covers the property, said it would be a good addition to the rapidly changing neighborhood.

"I like the idea that no one will be priced out of this," she said. She too endorsed Kriseman.

However, officials said the city wouldn't have any legal right to hold the Johnstons to their promise to practice voluntary rent control.

The council approved the Orange Belt lease agreement by a 6-1 vote with Montanari opposed. Council member Charlie Gerdes did not attend the meeting. He was at a family wedding.

Alan DeLisle, the city's top economic development official, also briefed the council on the progress of a 14-acre Commerce Park parcel on the west side of 22nd Street S across from the Manhattan Casino. The manufacturing and retail portions of the project are progressing faster than the workforce housing component, he said, but the constellation of business owners including a marine industry businesses and a high-end motorcycle dealership and service center have to complete their plans by May 2019, DeLisle said.

"The ball is really in their court," he said.

Contact Charlie Frago at cfrago@tampabay.com or (727)893-8459. Follow@CharlieFrago.

Comments
Gerald McCoy or Ndamukong Suh: Who would you rather have?

Gerald McCoy or Ndamukong Suh: Who would you rather have?

In the crowd-pleasing sports-talk of game of "Who Would You Rather Have?’’ there might not be a more perfect match-up than this.Gerald McCoy vs. Ndamukong Suh.Both are defensive tackles. Both went to, what were at the time, Big 12 schools. Both were ...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

TAMPA — In the spring of 2010, one of the biggest debates the week leading up to the NFL draft was which defensive tackle would be selected first? Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy.Both figured to be highly productive NFL players. S...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa police: Drunk wrong-way driver caused major crashes on Courtney Campbell Causeway

Tampa police: Drunk wrong-way driver caused major crashes on Courtney Campbell Causeway

TAMPA — Police arrested a 26-year-old man they say drove the wrong way while drunk and caused a multi-vehicle crash Friday on the Courtney Campbell Causeway.Collin John Cole faces two counts of driving under the influence causing serious bodily injur...
Updated: 1 hour ago

AC/DC founding member Malcolm Young dead at 64

NEW YORK (AP) — Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist and guiding force behind the Australian hard rock band AC/DC, has died. He was 64. AC/DC announced the death on their official Facebook page and website Saturday. The posts did not say when or where...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs-Dolphins preview

Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs-Dolphins preview

Greg Auman has a final preview of Sunday’s Bucs-Dolphins game in Miami in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.He talks about key matchups to watch for, from perhaps the NFL’s best slot receiver in Jarvis Landry, to Miami’s vulnerabilities at right tackl...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Fennelly: If this is true, Jameis Winston is done in this town

Fennelly: If this is true, Jameis Winston is done in this town

TAMPA — Why should we believe this man?Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is being investigated by the NFL concerning an allegation of him groping a female Uber driver in Scottsdale, Ariz., in March 2016.Winston denied the allegations Friday in a statem...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Romano: Hunting for a deadly needle in the Seminole Heights haystack

Romano: Hunting for a deadly needle in the Seminole Heights haystack

During the day, you hear from the psychics and the kooks. The well-intentioned tipsters, and the unsolicited profilers. This is all part of serial killer spillover, a sort of cottage industry of macabre.It gets tougher at night when you’re hounded by...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Possible wrong-way crash on Courtney Campbell Causeway late Friday

TAMPA — A multi-vehicle crash on the Courtney Campbell Causeway late Friday may have been caused by a driver traveling in the wrong direction, Tampa police said.The crash occurred in the eastbound lanes closer to the Tampa side of the causeway, near ...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/18/17

Region football: Clearwater Central Catholic 37, Calvary Christian 10

CLEARWATER — The ice bath ensued for Clearwater Central Catholic coach Chris Harvey after the Marauders’ 37-10 victory over Calvary Christian in Friday’s Class 3A region final. The win placed the Marauders (11-0) in their fifth state tournament since...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/18/17
Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

Tampa police investigate drive-by shooting in Seminole Heights

TAMPA — Police took one person into custody late Friday after a drive-by shooting ended in Seminole Heights.The incident, which unfolded about 11 p.m., did not appear to be related to the spate of other recent shootings in Seminole Heights that have ...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/18/17