City Council voted March 14 to delay Mayor Rick Kriseman’s Storefront Conservation Corridor Plan, which aims to protect small businesses on Central Avenue.
Created two years ago, the plan creates limitations on storefront sizes on Beach Drive and Central Avenue from the waterfront to 31st Street. It also includes financial incentives to keep independent businesses in these areas.
The public hearing is rescheduled for the City Hall meeting April 4.
Although Kriseman created a Facebook event inviting the public to attend the City Hall meeting and support the plan, only three residents took to the podium at the March 14 City Hall meeting.
One of them was Jim Grinaker with the nonprofit Keep St. Pete Local. He urged the councilmembers not to delay the plan.
“We have businesses who are really in desperate need of this support,” Grinaker said. “People… are being forced to move as we speak. These businesses are really giving back to our city to help put us on the map and I think we can do a little bit to help them in their time of need.”
Emanuel “Manny Kool” Matalon, manager of Daddy Kool Records at 666 Central Ave., also took to the podium.
“What we’re asking is that the character of St. Petersburg with the number of small storefronts stays the same,” Matalon said. “Nobody is saying that the small storefront can’t be a Starbucks. That’s not what we’re here for. …This initiative is about keeping the footprint similar. And I hope that everybody here appreciates that. Why we like this city is one of those reasons and there’s no reason to change that.”
Matalon’s iconic shop will close its doors March 31 due to rising rent prices on the 600 block. It will reopen on Record Store Day 2019 (April 13) in St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District outside of downtown, at 2430 Terminal Dr.
“This isn’t ‘save Daddy Kool’ or anything like that, that’s not what this is all about,” Matalon told a CL reporter. “This is about preserving the mix of different sizes and has nothing to do with what kind of business… and how much they can charge or anything like that.”
Would he be in favor of a stronger plan that protects small businesses or controls rent prices? Yes, but that’s unlikely.
Kriseman himself is a customer of Daddy Kool, and so are his children. At the City Hall meeting, Kriseman whispered to Matalon, “you guys rock.”
While small business owners have largely supported this plan for the past two years, developers and unknown interests have been urging City Council to delay the plan or propose changes.
Mack Feldman asked City Council to delay the plan March 14. He’s the son of Larry Feldman, the CEO of Feldman Equities. According to its website, Feldman Equities and its joint venture partners own or manage over four million square feet of office space in Florida.
“My concern right now is unintended consequences of this proposal,” Feldman said. “Things like the assumption that rates will go down. When we implement this, I don’t know that that’s true… I’m asking City Council, consider slowing down taking a look at this and working with the owners to find out what will happen is policy is implemented.”
The next open forum on the Storefront Conservation Corridor Plan will take place at St. Petersburg City Hall on April 4.
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