Arts collaboration behind Ybor Kress will grow with The Citrus Factory

The collaboration that launched an arts community at the historic Ybor Kress Building continues to grow. 

Tracy Midulla, with nonprofit gallery and arts organization Tempus Projects and the Kress Contemporary, and Ybor developer Darryl Shaw are working on plans to renovate an old warehouse at 18th Street and East Second Avenue in Ybor into a collection of artist studios known as The Citrus Factory. Plans include 50 artist studios, a community gallery and cultural event space.

“It will be open to emerging, early-career artists,” Midulla says. “There might be a few mid-career artists but it really is to create space for artists that just need studio space. I suspect that we will have quite a few emerging artists there, that these will be their first studios.’’

The project concept has been around since 2022, when it was initially known as Meatyard. Back then, Shaw asked Midulla to help curate an art show for a pre-renovation open house for the project. The collaboration between Midulla, Shaw, the Tampa Arts Alliance and other partners has included the launch of the arts collective at the Kress Building and the effort to develop Artspace Tampa in Ybor City as affordable housing and studio space for artists.

Shaw owns the Ybor Kress Building and the warehouse that will house The Citrus Factory. He’s also donated a 23,000-square-foot site at 1610 East Third Avenue for Artspace Tampa. Midulla initially met Shaw a few years back when working on the Artspace Tampa initiative.

“That allowed me to basically talk to him about what we need in Ybor, and he seemed pretty receptive to it,” she says. “He’s one of the few real estate developers that I really feel understand the need for arts and culture in the community, and not just to get it started and then move everybody out once you’ve created a certain price point in rent.’’

While there has not been a lot of movement on The Citrus Factory since the 2022 announcement, Midulla says the plans are still in place. The project’s name is a nod to the original use of the building as Dave Gordon & Company Machinery Factory, which made citrus fruit sorting machinery.

“We’re basically waiting on funding,” she says. “We applied for two grants and we scored favorably so we’re just waiting to hear back on that funding. There’s obviously opportunities for state and county money,’’ she says. “Right now the project has slowed down but it is not by any means canceled. It’s just moving a little slower than we had anticipated.’’

Meanwhile, things continue to move quickly at the Kress Building. There are 10 exhibition spaces, dozens of artist studios, performance and event space, a micro-cinema, the Tampa City Ballet’s home, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts and multiple literary arts organizations. Most recently, House of Shadows gallery moved in. And expansion is in the works. A planned western annex to the arts hub along the 1600 block of East Seventh Avenue will add a print-making studio, wet-dry photography dark room, living space for short-term artists and kitchen space for culinary arts. 

For more information, go to Kress Contemporary.
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Philip Morgan is a freelance writer living in St. Petersburg. He is an award-winning reporter who has covered news in the Tampa Bay area for more than 50 years. Phil grew up in Miami and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in journalism. He joined the Lakeland Ledger, where he covered police and city government. He spent 36 years as a reporter for the former Tampa Tribune. During his time at the Tribune, he covered welfare and courts and did investigative reporting before spending 30 years as a feature writer. He worked as a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times for 12 years. He loves writing stories about interesting people, places and issues.