CREW Pitches Art To Sell Downtown

A group of commercial real estate professionals in the Tampa Bay region grew tired of looking at old downtown Tampa buildings sitting empty.

So it took an unconventional approach and, without government help, put wooden facades on the fronts of some of them, painting them to look like real businesses, such as ice cream shops, pet stores and shoe stores, and stringing lights across streets.

"We just did it," says Brenda Dohring Hicks, longtime downtown booster and real estate executive. "It was our little guerilla project."

Then they brought in artists to donate movable sculptures, that move by touch, solar heat or by wind gusts, and placed 13 of those, some 12 feet tall, in downtown as well.

The program, Art Out Loud, was a brainchild of Abbey Dohring, VP, The Dohring Group, and Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW).

"It is now shocking to see what downtown is like now at night," Hicks says. "CREW wanted to be a catalyst.''

CREW, a 150-member organization, has also donated to the riverwalk project downtown and sponsored some of the downtown flags.

"We're a go-to organization and we want to help to make things happen," HIcks says.

Dave Szymanski, a Tampa-based journalist, likes running 5ks, other sports and writing poetry. Comments?
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