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St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport undergoes $9.8M renovation

Airports in the Tampa Bay area are getting bigger and better, including St. Pete-Clearwater International, which just announced its renovation plans for its terminals. This follows the recent announcement made by Tampa International Airport of the opening of the first few new restaurants and retail as part of a $953 million renovation master plan.

At St. Pete-Clearwater International in North St. Petersburg close to Largo and Clearwater, a $9.8 million project will add 12,000-square-feet to gates seven through 10 as well as an additional 350 new seats to the waiting area by those gates.

“The terminal renovation project is needed to meet our passenger growth,” says Michele Routh of St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE).

The passenger screening checkpoint area will go from two lanes to three in an effort to expedite wait times. Other improvements taking place in gates seven through 10 include renovations to retail and food and beverage concessions, a new children’s play area and renovated restrooms.

“The airport will be fully functioning during the renovations,” Routh says.

Restrooms will be renovated and expanded in baggage claim, the restaurant on the second floor and in the operations wing. All of these renovations will include upgrades to meet ADA requirements. A new mechanical control room will be added as well.   

“For over three years we have been growing by double digits,” St. Pete-Clearwater Airport Director Tom Jewsbury stated in a news release. “Although the construction phase will present challenges, the end result will be worth it for our passengers' comfort and convenience.”

Construction is expected to start next month. The Artec Group will be handling all of the renovations, and the project is expected to be completed in summer 2017.

Brand new, renovated Bay Area hotels ready for spring break visitors

With Spring Break just around the corner, hotels in the Tampa Bay area are getting ready to host an influx of tourists, including four hotels now under construction and/or undergoing renovation projects designed to meet increasing demand from tourists and other visitors.

Loews Don CeSar

Located near St. Petersburg Beach, Loews Don CeSar is the historic pink palace built in 1928. In addition to two pools, an 11,000-square-foot spa and an award-winning seafood restaurant, the hotel is adding a new bar to the list of amenities.

The Rowe Bar, which opened earlier this month at the Don CeSar, represents a $1.8 million investment by Loews.

“This is a brand new space that seats 200,” says Jeff Abbaticchio, Director of Public Relations for the hotel. “The new bar includes an interior space as well as an outdoor area featuring three fire pits and an outdoor fireplace.”

In addition to the Rowe Bar, Loews has been working on another project within the Don CeSar family of hotels.

Beach House Suites by Loews Don CeSar

A few blocks north of the Don CeSar, Loews 30-year-old Beach House Suites recently completed an $8 million renovation to its 70 suites, which offer guests one-bedroom lodging complete with kitchen space and a washer and dryer.

”All 70 suites were renovated to offer more spacious and contemporary space for our guests,” Abbaticchio says. “Beach House Suites is the perfect lodging solution for guests coming to the area from overseas or staying for an extended vacation because it has all the amenities you need, like a kitchen and washer and dryer. Plus we offer a complimentary shuttle service between Beach House Suites and the Don CeSar so guests can enjoy all that the Don CeSar has to offer.”

Opal Sands Resort

Drive down Gulfview Boulevard in Clearwater Beach to find the crescent-shaped building that is Opal Sands Resort, the latest hotel to open on the world-famous beach.

The shape of the building guarantees every visitor a view of the Gulf, according to Opal Sands General Manager Jeff Castner.

This luxury resort, which had a soft opening in early March, is 15-stories, features 230 rooms and cost $50 million to build.
 
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa

Situated at 5223 Orient Road in Tampa, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is visible from Interstate 4 and adjacent to the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre. The hotel features a spa, salon, restaurants, stores and of course a casino.

As large as the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino already is there are plans in the works for it to get even bigger. Last week, the Seminole Tribe of Florida met with Florida Gov. Rick Scott and unveiled its plans for a $1.8 billion expansion for its Hollywood and Tampa hotel locations.

For the Tampa hotel, plans include a second tower with 500 new rooms, a helipad, five retail stores, a new lobby bar as well as new dinning and meeting spaces.
 
A construction start date for this project has not been set. 

New live, work, play, stay places coming to Downtown Dunedin

The sounds of construction are back in Downtown Dunedin with a new mixed-use building going up and other projects just beginning or in the works.

Victoria Place

Located at 821 Victoria Drive in Dunedin, Victoria Place is under construction. This mixed-use building will house 30 units and eight retail spaces when it is completed later this year.

There are several factors that make Victoria Place an attractive place for future residents, including “the urban lifestyle that Dunedin offers,” says Claudia Emery of Victoria Place. “The walkability to events, restaurants and boutique shops is a draw to the community.”

Developer and contractor JMC Communities Inc. along with architect BSB Design Inc. are working on the project, which is expected to be completed fall of 2016.

Artisan Apartment Homes

Artisan Apartment Homes is a proposed four-story apartment home development, which includes retail shops and a public garage leased by the city at the corner of Monroe Street and Douglas Avenue.

If all goes as planned, construction will start June 1st and be completed by summer 2017. The new complex will house 65 units, with more than 11,000-square-feet of retail space.

Dunedin Bed & Breakfast

Dunedin, with its small town charm, is no stranger to the bed & breakfast concept. Therefore, it is no surprise that a new bed & breakfast is planned for downtown Dunedin. The 11-unit lodging concept situated at 520 and 530 Skinner Boulevard is currently in the pre-construction phase.

The proposed development includes fives bedroom units inside the main building with an additional six units in detached duplexes. The main building will have a wrap-around porch, while the duplex units will have front porches. Retail space on the property is also planned.

New bicycle/pedestrian path connects Clearwater to Safety Harbor in Pinellas County

Good news for local and visiting pedestrians and bicyclists as the city of Clearwater announces the completion of an extended path running along Bayshore Boulevard on the eastern edge of the city along Cooper Bayou and Old Tampa Bay.

The trail, which connects the Courtney Campbell Causeway to Ream Wilson Trail at Del Oro Park is expected to be completed by today, March 1st.
 
“Providing bicycle and pedestrian accommodation is important for multimodal transportation alternatives, economic development and recreation for the city,” says Felicia Donnelly with the parks and recreation department for the City of Clearwater.
 
Donnelly says this connection will be among several other pedestrian and bicycle trail unions throughout the city, including Duke Energy, CSX, Druid Connection, Landmark Drive and Belleair trails. The city’s master plan for proposed bicycle and pedestrian paths proposes adding over 25 miles dedicated to trails throughout Clearwater.
 
The Druid Trail, which is expected to be completed later this year, will be a four-mile multiple use section along Druid Road. It will connect to the Pinellas Trail and residential areas, as well as Clearwater High School and Glen Oaks Park.
 
The city hopes that the connection between the Courtney Campbell Causeway and Ream Wilson Trail will open up a traffic-free path for pedestrians and bicyclists from Cypress Point Park to downtown Clearwater and north to Safety Harbor. With the master plan, the expectation is the network of trails will link the beaches to the Pinellas Trail, which runs North to South through Pinellas County.  
 
The trail will be complete with two bike fix-it stations where bicyclists can fix minor problems to their bikes without having to leave the trail. The city plans to install six more stations along the trails by the beginning of the summer.

Tampa Heights neighborhood tour of homes on Sunday

One of the most popular emerging neighborhoods in Tampa is welcoming visitors and future residents to take a peek inside during the 14th annual Tampa Heights Tour of Homes on Sunday, February 28th.

The tour will include seven homes never previously showcased in the annual event, as well as some other new unique aspects.

 “We are featuring commercial property this year,” says Chris Currie with the Tampa Heights Civic Association. “The Rialto Theatre on Franklin Street will be part of the tour. I don’t think a lot of people have been able to get into see it, but it’s been undergoing preservation and restoration. We will also be featuring Hidden Springs Brewery and they are offering discounts on their craft beers to visitors of the home tour.”

The historic Tampa Heights neighborhood has been experiencing investments leading to quite a transformation including the recent additions of Ulele Restaurant and Brewery, Water Works Park and the Riverwalk Extension, which is expected to be completed by mid-year.

According to Currie, properties in the neighborhood where the Tour of Homes will be held are valued between $250,000 and $350,000.

For those planning to attend the event, the tour starts at the community center at 2005 North Lamar Avenue In Tampa. There is parking available at the community center and ticket sales -- $10 each -- will start at noon. Discounted tickets are available for purchase online. The tour ends at 5 p.m.

“The Tour of Homes is the single greatest source of funds for the Tampa Heights Civic Association,” Currie says. “100-percent of the proceeds go to the association whose goal is to better the Tampa Heights community.”

Townhomes: Latest trend in downtown St. Petersburg

The urban renaissance is alive and well in downtown St. Petersburg. While several new condos and towers in the area have been getting a lot of publicity recently, it seems that the next new trend is townhouse living.

The appeal of having all the luxuries of a house with the backdrop of downtown in your backyard, and the accessibility and walkability to local destinations may make the lure of townhouses downright irresistible.

Here is a look at what is on the horizon for townhouses in downtown St. Petersburg.

Center City Townhomes

While several residential projects are underway in downtown St. Petersburg, one innovative project in particular stands out from the rest. It is small, but mighty.

Center City Townhomes will be comprised of just two units at 325 2nd Street North. While only offering two units, do not underestimate the offerings given at the $1.2 million properties.

“Each unit will be over 2,700-square-feet,” says Brooks Matheson, President of Matheson Designs, LLC.

With three-bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths and a family room overlooking a private pool,  the three-story townhouses will offer plenty of space for downtown living. Among some of the other luxurious amenities found in the properties are a media room on the third floor, which can also be used as an office, two-car garage, private elevator and a 600-square-foot roof top deck with covered porch.

“I have lived in St. Petersburg for six years now and have fallen in love with the area,” says Matheson. “The downtown corridor is a great place to live and work. Coming from the Miami area, to see a downtown with so much green space and walkability, I knew I wanted to build something here.”

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

Regent Lane

With a British mews theme, these four-story townhomes located less than two blocks from Beach Drive offer future residents the chance to enjoy all that downtown St. Petersburg has to offer.

“I believe the potential for an urban lifestyle that has been established in downtown St. Pete will be easily accessible to the homeowners of my project,” says Neil Rauenhorst, President of NJR properties investment, LLC.

The 20-units within Regent Lane will be located in a gated community. Each townhome will be over 2,300-square-feet, with three-bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths and a private rooftop terrace -- offering plenty of room for a young family with children.

Rauenhorst together with Mark Stephenson, Architect and Principal of WS Architecture and Matthew Foster, President of Peregrine Homes, LLC are all working on the project set to be completed summer 2016.

The Brownstones

New Englanders now residing in the Sunshine City within the Sunshine State now have a housing option that will make them feel a little more a home with The Brownstones of St. Petersburg.

“Being from New York myself, I know there are a lot of people who live here, who are originally from New York and Boston, so I figured, why not bring brownstones to St. Pete,” says Steve Gianfilippo, Owner and Founder of the Brownstone of St. Petersburg.”

With 4,000-square-feet of living space, and a detached garage that can be rented out as an apartment, the Brownstones offer many options to future residents.

Each unit is four-stories with its own private elevator.

Gianfilippo is working on the project with architecture firm G2 Design and developer Channelmark Company.

Local restaurants, shops emerge in Tampa airport's redevelopment

The next time you fly out of Tampa International Airport you may notice some new shops to peruse and restaurants to grab a bite or have a drink. As part of the airport’s $953-million master plan, there will be 65 new shops and restaurants opening at the airport.
 
The first two establishments are already open in Airside A: Bay Coffee & Tea and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels.
 
Bay Coffee & Tea is a locally-based organic coffee shop. This innovative company uses solar energy to dry their coffee beans. More local shops and restaurants will be represented in the airport as construction continues.
 
“Roughly 40-percent of the food and beverage options are local, featuring such staples as Columbia, Cigar City, RumFish Grill, Buddy Brew and the Café by Mise en Place,” says Danny Valentine with Tampa International Airport.
 
The 65 new shops and restaurants will be spread throughout the airport including the main terminal. Thirty of the storefronts and restaurants are set to open this year.
 
Other local brands to look for include:
  • Shop HSN where live remote shows will be broadcast from the store, and Tampa Life featuring gifts from the Dali Museum can be found in the Main Terminal.
  • Ducky’s, partially owned by Tampa Bay Rays player Evan Longoria, will be modeled after the South Tampa Sports Bar in Airside A. Like the South Tampa location known for its duck pin bowling, the airport restaurant will offer a table top version of the bowling game.
  • Fitlife Foods known for its convenient but healthy meals and Goody Goody burgers are being brought back to life after a 10-year-plus hiatus in Airside C.
  • Tampa Bay Times storefront with grab-and-go food by Alessi Bakery, Four Green Fields, which will be a replica of the Tampa bar and restaurant complete with a similar thatched roof and Air Essentials, a news and convenience store featuring food from La Segunda Bakery, CaterMeFit and Amici’s Catered Cuisine  in Airside E.
  • For those in need of some liquid courage before their flight, there is The Gasparilla Bar, a Captain Morgan bar in the shape of a pirate ship, and Bay to Bay News, a news and convenience store featuring food from La Segunda Bakery, CaterMeFit and Amici’s Catered Cuisine in Airside F.
“Our redevelopment program will give our guests and passengers access to more choices than ever before,” Valentine says. “We are putting more options near gates where passengers want them most. Overall, we are enhancing passenger experience.”
 
Total construction is set to be completed by late 2017.

Construction begins on new apartment tower in downtown Tampa

The downtown Tampa skyline will be getting more crowded in coming months as yet another new apartment building grows out of the ground on north Franklin Street between Tyler and Cass streets.

With 362-units, the 23-story apartment building will also have 8,000-square-feet of retail space.

The building by developers Carter of Atlanta includes very dramatic public art, a generous amount of ground floor retail and a full amenity package including a rooftop pool,” says Bob McDonaugh, Economic Opportunity Administrator for the city of Tampa. “It all adds up to a very attractive development, which should be quite successful when it is completed.”

The design team includes DPR Construction and RJT+R Architecture.

The new tower is named Nine15 after its address at 915 Franklin N. St. It joins several other projects in the making including the Arts and Entertainment Residencies (AER) near the Straz Center and The Channel Club at the intersection of Meridian Avenue and East Twiggs Street.

“The city of Tampa is experiencing the same phenomenon that many other cities are experiencing, the flight back to the urban core,” McDonaugh says. “Today, many of the millennials as well as their empty nest parents are deciding that an urban lifestyle is what suits them.”

McDonaugh goes on to say that while there is very little vacancy available in many urban areas, the site for the new tower is where the former Grant Building sat mostly vacant for years, an interesting location because it is the furthest north of the current wave of residential development taking place in downtown Tampa.

Surge of multi-family residential development seen in South Tampa

Like many sections of Tampa, South Tampa is experiencing a surge of development as new townhouses and villas go up.  

Waverly Courtyard Villas
 
This new community is finishing up construction on its final two buildings, which are townhomes, situated at the corner of MacDill and Euclid Avenues. Each townhome has four bedrooms and four bathrooms, with more than 2,600 square-feet.
 
“The townhomes feature an open floor plan that is perfectly suited for entertaining,” says Bill Andrasco, who represents the construction company on the project, ODC Construction. “The custom kitchen is very stylish, with its maple cabinetry, granite counters and top-of-the-line appliances.”
 
Other amenities include energy efficient, impact-resistant windows, as well as a detached, private guest suites with full bath and kitchenette above a detached two-car garage.
 
“The South Tampa area is a bubbling and lively atmosphere,” Andrasco says. “Living in the area puts you walking distance from some of Tampa's best restaurants, wine shops, specialty stores and more.”
 
Construction on the mid-$500,000 priced townhouses will be completed May 2016.
 
Grant Place

Located near the intersection of Azeele Street and Armenia Avenue, Grant Place is under construction. This new development will feature triplex townhomes. Each townhouse will be three-bedrooms, two-and-a-half-bathrooms and will be approximately 2,200 square-feet.

Features of these low-to-mid $500,000 priced townhomes include a loft, Mediterranean-style design with tile roof and covered patio. The location of the community is within walking distance to several restaurants, Publix Greenwise and Starbucks.

Casa De Leon

Another of the more luxurious projects under construction in South Tampa is Casa De Leon, which will be located on West DeLeon Street. The development includes six luxury townhomes pre-selling in the low-to-mid $500,000s. These three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom homes have amenities such as a study and game room, optional elevator and second floor lanai.

The three-story home is also good for the environment with Energy Star windows, high efficiency heat pumps and electric heat strips with thermostats that can be programmed as well as a tankless water heater.

Construction on Casa De Leon is expected to be complete Fall 2016.

Tampa Bay area colleges add buildings designed for the future

As college students settle in for the Spring semester at campuses around the Tampa Bay area, many of the college grounds in the region are under construction to make way for the future.

USF St. Petersburg

The University of South Florida-St Petersburg (USFSP) recently broke ground on the Kate Tiedemann College of Business building. The building located on the downtown St. Petersburg campus will be designed to enhance the learning experience for business students.

“The new building will house an accelerator lab for its entrepreneurship program where students can develop startups and work with local entrepreneurs,” says Gary Patterson, interim Dean and Professor of Finance at the Kate Tiedemann College of Business. “We will also provide a consumer insight lab where marketing students can conduct focus group studies. The building offers USFSP the infrastructure needed to improve the services to our students and community partners.”

Patterson says the building, which will cost upwards of $29 million, will allow students the ability to congregate in one location.

“Currently the students, faculty and staff are spread across eight buildings at USF St. Petersburg,” he says. “Students will finally have a home, and the new building will allow them to work on group projects in the break-out rooms found throughout the building.” 

The Kate Tiedemann College of Business building is expected to open Fall 2016.

University of Tampa

To ensure not only a healthy mind, but healthy body too, the University of Tampa is building a new fitness center. Scheduled to open Spring 2016, the 40,000-square-feet, two-story building will have exercise programs, personal training and evaluation, intra-murals, club sports and a room dedicated for spinning classes.

In addition to the expenditure of the building, the University is purchasing a large number of treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers and free weights for the fitness center.

Eckerd College

Students interested in the arts rejoiced when the college recently announced plans to replace its Ransom Arts Center with a new visual arts building. The Ransom Arts Center, which has been a staple at the main campus since the 1970s, was torn down.

The new building has yet to be named, but will be approximately 34,000-square-feet, quite an upgrade from the original 18,000-square-feet. With the extra space, students can expect more video and photography space, a green screen and more space for a dark room.

Construction started last month and is expected to be completed in two years.

Tampa Bay area private schools grow, invest in new buildings

Tampa Bay area private schools serving students in kindergarten through high school are investing in their campuses as a way to enrich the educational experience for students.
 
Academy of the Holy Names
 
Located on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, The Academy of the Holy Names recently announced its groundbreaking on a new center for the arts. The $11 million facility will include a 350-seat theater, interior and exterior learning spaces, 2- and 3-D art labs as well as band, choral and dance classrooms.
 
“In addition to classes, the center will be used for full-run drama productions,” says Emily Wise of The Academy of the Holy Names.The arts are a central part of the Academy's curriculum and a critical factor in educating the whole child, mind, body and spirit.”  

Construction is expected to run approximately 13 months. While the center will be ready for use in spring 2017, classes will start in fall 2017.
 
Berkeley Prep
 
With a generous donation from the Gries Investment Fund to the tune of $4 million, last fall Berkeley Prep opened the Gries Center for Arts and Sciences. The 75,000-square-foot facility is home to the middle and upper division fine and visual arts departments, as well as upper division for math and science.
 
Other features of the center include multimedia labs, digital-ready study rooms, eight professional potter’s wheels, two outdoor kilns and a covered patio space.
 
One of the more innovative features of the building is the multimedia room, which includes a green screen, industry-editing software for film class and a whisper box that allows students to record voice-overs of sound studio quality for films and animation.
 
Jesuit High School
 
The historic all-male K-12 private school located on Himes Avenue in Tampa is planning a $35-million renovation and expansion project. Plans include adding four new buildings to the campus, as well as renovating others. Also, a full renovation of the chapel is planned.
 
“The refurbishment of the campus will begin with a full renovation of the chapel, which is the heart of the school,” says Pete Young of Jesuit High School. “The students gather every morning for Convocation, and we are maxed out on the number of students we can fit in the sanctuary, there is just no room for growth, so we need a larger chapel so we can accommodate more students.”

Memorial for veterans to open in Clearwater park

Driving down Gulf-to-Bay in Clearwater, you may have noticed fencing around Crest Lake Park. Wondering what is going on?
 
Well, the city of Clearwater, along with the Tampa Bay Veterans Alliance has decided to add a veteran’s memorial area to the park. Crest Lake Park was chosen given its visibility and access to Gulf-to-Bay.
 
Even though the memorial will be new, it already has historic significance.
 
“The Tampa Bay Veterans Alliance, established as Clearwater Veterans Alliance, developed the Florida Veterans’ Memorial concept to establish the first cross-generational veteran’s memorial in the State of Florida,” says Jason Beisel with the city of Clearwater.  “There exists no other memorial park or plaza that honors the commitments of veterans from so many eras, spanning World War II through present day.”
 
The estimated $1 million project will feature a brick circular plaza with a gold design in the middle along a paved pathway. An American flag displayed along with POW flags, as well as flags representing each branch of the United States military will be represented. Bronze sculptures representing periods of conflict from World War II to the present will be included. The plaza will be surrounded by walls on which those wanting to honor a veteran can have the veteran's name engraved for a small donation.  

“There is a longstanding tradition of honoring veterans in the United States of America,” Beisel says. “The Florida Veterans Memorial serves this tradition by continuing the city of Clearwater’s history of incorporating veteran’s memorials, started at the base of the Clearwater Memorial Causeway in the 1920s with the placement of E.M. Viquesney’s Spirit of the American Navy and Spirit of the American Doughboy into city infrastructure.”
 
There will be no fee to visit the memorial once it opens.  A portion of the memorial will open Memorial Day with a ribbon cutting.

Innovative aquaponics facility in Tampa Bay to grow produce, farm fish

Looking for a place where you could get fresh organic fish, as well as produce free of chemicals and fertilizers here in the Tampa Bay area? Now, what if these fish and produce would come from a building and not the ocean or farm land?
 
That is the innovative concept behind Global Aquaponic Inc. (GAI). It is a concept that the company wants to bring to the Tampa Bay area..

The specific location has not been yet determined.
 
If you have ever taken a ride through ‘The Land’ exhibit in EPCOT at the Walt Disney World resort, you may have seen how similar systems work. Basically, it is an alternative way to grow produce and farm fish in a controlled environment without the use of pesticides.
 
“Aquaponics uses up to 90 percent less water than traditional soil-based farming and therefore preserves our fresh water,” Bradshaw says. “Chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are poisonous to our environment; therefore we do not use any of those.”
 
Bradshaw goes on to say that although there is no start date as of yet, the facility can be completed and fully producing in one year from start to finish.  Which also means green job creation for the area.
 
“The aquaponics system will be comprised of two separate entities: a fish facility and a greenhouse,” he says. The fish facility will require two dedicated employees, a manager and an assistant manager, as well as one full-time employee. The greenhouse will require 12 to 24 full-time employees for the greenhouse bays.”
 
For more information on the company, visit their website.

Blocks of West Tampa experience investments, redevelopment

An abandoned shopping center in West Tampa is experiencing a rebirth as new retailers and a new restaurant make plans to call the neighborhood home. 

Ashley Furniture, Floor & Decor and Ker's Winghouse will all be going into a shopping center formerly anchored by K-Mart at  2915 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.

“West Tampa is experiencing a renaissance,” says Dawn Hudson, president of the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce. “It is the perfect location for businesses to locate with easy access to all destinations, roadways and centers of influence around Tampa.”

Ashley Furniture and Floor & Decor are moving into the 60,000-plus square-feet space that K-Mart previously occupied. Ashley furniture, which has showrooms selling furniture for living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms and home offices, will be occupying over 43,000-square-feet of adjacent storefront. Floor & Decor sells a variety of tile, stone, wood and laminate options for floors and walls.

Outside of the stores where Miami Subs once stood, a two-story Ker's Winghouse will be opening.

This 6,000-square-foot location has an unusually large layout compared to other Ker's locations throughout the Tampa Bay area.

The West Tampa area will continue to see more redevelopment as the city of Tampa's community redevelopment plan (CRP) progresses. Initiatives in the plan include improvements to sidewalks and roadways to make the neighborhood more walkable, redeveloping parks and restoring historic sites.

“Our iconic watertower will be illuminated soon,” Hudson says. “The renaissance is happening.”
 

Popular Chicago-based restaurant coming to Brandon

Tampa Bay area visitors and residents will be able to get a taste of Chicago while still soaking up the Florida sun when Portillo’s opens this spring in Brandon.
 
The Chicago-based restaurant chain plans to open its new location in the growing suburb east of Tampa, which is the first site in Florida for the chain.
 
“Tampans have been peppering us for years with requests to come to Florida,” says Nick Scarpino, Director of Marketing for Portillo’s. “There are also a lot of former Chicagoans in the greater Tampa area who are already familiar with our brand. We found a great opportunity just outside of Tampa and we're excited to open our doors soon.”
 
Portillo’s has 39 restaurants, most of which are in the Chicago area. Other locations can be found in Arizona and California.
 
The new restaurant located at the northwest corner of State Road 60 and Lakewood Drive will be 9,000-square-feet. There will be outdoor seating, as well as a 1930’s prohibition theme complete with a 1930’s truck suspended above the dining room.
 
Aside from the unique décor, Scarpino says it is the food that really draws people in.
 
“We are best known for our Chicago-style hot dogs and our Italian beef sandwiches,” he says. “Of course, no meal is complete at Portillo's without our famous chocolate cake, which is made fresh every day inside the restaurant.”
 
Up to 200 jobs will be created as a result of the new restaurant, which is currently taking applications. The grand opening is scheduled for late March or early April.
 
For more information on Portillo’s visit their website
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