A boarded-up 72-year-old Ybor City grocery that helped feed cigar workers and their families will reopen as the headquarters for a Clearwater architecture firm.
Choosing 1708 E. Columbus Dr. to develop its new headquarters, Design Styles Architecture
plans to do a $300,000 renovation of an old 1930s Ybor V.M. grocery store before moving its operations and employees to Tampa. The East Tampa Community Redevelopment Agency
awarded the firm a $50,000 Façade Grant which will help provide funding to rehabilitate the exterior of the new office.
“Working in an office park in Clearwater just didn't seem to show off our firm's character,” says Jason Dickens, Design Styles' director of operations. “With an office full of creative people and clients with a desire to create something unique, 1708 E. Columbus Dr. seemed like the perfect building to help in fostering that creativity.”
According to Dickens, through more than eight years of vacancy, the building sustained extensive termite damage and a fire, destroying a good portion of the roof. Design Styles
plans to secure all of the structural elements to ensure the building's safety before taking advantage of the history both inside and outside of the building.
“Our intentions are to restore the building to look very closely to the way it did in the 1930s,” Dickens says. “Over the past few years, Columbus Drive has experienced a dramatic turnaround as businesses buy and renovate buildings to open their businesses. Design Styles is just another piece to bringing the area back to the place it was in the early 1900s.”
Currently, Design Styles works out of a 1,700-square-foot building located at 2907 S.R. 590 in Suite 7 in Clearwater. The firm's move to Ybor City will nearly triple its operations size: The 1930s Columbus Drive building is approximately 5,000 square feet. The renovation project is expected to take less than one year.
“We are very excited about taking ownership of this building and becoming a part of the Ybor City
and East Tampa community,” Dickens says. “We look forward to the opportunities ahead of us.”
Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Jason Dickens, Design Styles Architecture