St. Petersburg's BayWalk Adds Major Tenant

BayWalk, the two-story, open air downtown St. Petersburg retail and entertainment complex, is adding a New York-based furniture chain to its tenant mix.

HermanHOME, which offers a variety of upscale furniture, lighting, artwork and accessories, will be moving in this month, on the first floor in the northeast corner of the center, BayWalk officials say.

HermanHOME aims to keep prices competitive by eliminating middlemen in its buying system so it can pass savings on to customers. The retailer also offers interior design services by Ed Biggs, an interior designer from St. Petersburg who developed the store concept with New York developer Steve Herman.

The signing is significant for BayWalk, which has changed ownership and is trying to build some business growth momentum with existing and new tenants. It has 73,000 square feet of retail space and an 80,000-square-foot movie theater in its urban setting.

BayWalk, developed by the Sembler Co. in St. Petersburg, opened strong in the fall of 2000, as one of the catalysts for St. Petersburg's downtown revival. It was the go-to place for many Tampa Bay area residents looking for a different and urban retail and entertainment experience.

It worked, as several restaurants, stores, museums and other businesses followed. BayWalk, similar to Centro Ybor across the bay in Tampa, includes movie theaters, stores, shops and restaurants in a festive, outdoor courtyard-like setting. Bar patrons can stand near a railing and look out over downtown.

But the slowing economy hurt all retailers, including BayWalk. Sembler eventually sold the complex and its new owners are committed to tweaking the tenant mix and regaining BayWalk's former strength.

BayWalk has improved the look of the property and added more security and events at the complex to boost customer visits.

Writer: Dave Szymanski

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