March 31, 2023
An artists' draw: The Warehouse Arts District

Photo: Scott Keeler/Tampa Bay Times

Warehouse Arts District Association President Mark Aeling at Soft Water Studios.

Southwest Florida Roundup

An artists' draw: The Warehouse Arts District

A non-profit group wants to keep artists from being priced out.

Amy Martinez | 5/27/2015

Since the early 2000s, artists have come in a steady flow to an old industrial neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown St. Petersburg, turning abandoned warehouses into studios and galleries. Today, the so-called Warehouse Arts District is home to more than 120 artists, including glass sculptor Duncan McClellan and potter Charlie Parker.

A craft brewery also has found a home in the district, and there are plans for a vodka distillery and office space.

The area has even emerged as a “second-day” tourist destination, with a monthly art walk and trolley tour.

But as the arts district gains momentum, a non-profit group wants to make sure that it doesn’t get too pricey for the people who revitalized it. Last year, the St. Petersburg Warehouse Arts District Association bought a collection of six buildings on nearly 3 acres for $975,000, pledging to create and preserve affordable space for artists.

The city, which promotes itself as an art Mecca, donated $75,000 toward the down payment of $200,000.

According to association President Mark Aeling, a sculptor who moved to St. Petersburg from St. Louis in 2005, the entire project will take up to five years and cost more than $1 million. The first phase involves transforming about 20,000 square feet into individual studios, with a restaurant, foundry, classrooms and exhibit space to follow.

“I was watching investors buying up buildings around here and thinking that artists are going to get pushed out just like everywhere else,” he says. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to decrease rents over time, not increase them.”

One of the district’s newest tenants, Dazzio Art Experience, moved in after owner Jay Dazzio learned that rent for his space on Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg was about to double.

Dazzio had rented there for five years. Dazzio, who operates a gallery and art school, recently signed a lease for cheaper space near Aeling’s place on association-owned property.

Profile: Shark Shield

After moving from Australia to a new outpost in St. Petersburg, Shark Shield is marketing in the U.S. wearable devices designed to prevent shark attacks. Shark Shield devices work by generating an electric force field that sets off spasms in the animals’ snouts, causing the sharks discomfort but no lasting damage, says Amanda Wilson, who owns the company with her husband. Prices range from $600 to $700. Since moving to St. Petersburg a year ago, they’ve focused on engaging Tampa Bay’s spearfishing community and marketing to dive shops. “We were in a half-dozen retail locations in Florida last May,” she says. “Now, we’re in 40.”


  • Former Hawaiian Telcom Communications executive Robert Reich became CFO at Syniverse in Tampa, replacing David Hitchcock, who took a position as head of global product management and development.
  • Clearwater-based Tech Data made Pete Peterson senior vice president of business development and promoted Marty Bauerlein to senior vice president of U.S. sales. Also, Marc McClure was promoted to vice president of field sales for the eastern U.S., and Vince Stemen was promoted to vice president of field sales for the west/ central U.S.

Business Briefs

CLEARWATER — Tech Data sold its businesses in Chile and Peru to California-based Ingram Micro and will leave Uruguay. The company plans to expand its Latin America export business in Miami as well as its Mexico operations.

LAKELAND — Publix reported a 2014 profit of $1.7 billion as sales rose 6% to $30.6 billion. It plans to spend $1.3 billion on construction, renovations and technology in 2015.

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Dallasbased ClubCorp Holdings bought Legacy Golf Club as part of a six-course, $44-million deal spanning five states. CAC International, an information technology company based in Arlington, Va., bought LTC Engineering Associates of Lakewood Ranch for an undisclosed amount.

MANATEE COUNTY — Construction has begun on the Fort Hamer Bridge across the Manatee River. The project is expected to take two years.

NORTH PORT — City officials moved forward with a proposal by New York physician Grigory Pogrebinsky to build a health and wellness resort near Warm Mineral Springs.

SARASOTA — Envera Systems, a provider of electronic security monitoring, plans to add 30 jobs in Sarasota and invest $604,000.

ST. PETERSBURG — Software company GeniusCentral Systems moved its headquarters to St. Petersburg from Lakewood Ranch and will add 40 jobs to its payroll of about 60. Texas-based home builder D. R. Horton is entering Pinellas County with plans for 127 townhomes at a development called The Colonnade.

TAMPA — Gateway One Lending & Finance plans to create 115 jobs and invest $675,000 at a new auto lending service center in Tampa. Ex-New York Yankees star Derek Jeter bid for a restaurant slot at Tampa International Airport, calling his concept The Players’ Tribune Bar & Grill. > Tampa’s Oxis Biotech signed a deal with MultiCell Immunotherapeutics to develop potential drug therapies for a difficult-to-treat type of breast cancer and multiple myeloma. USF Health and Florida Orthopaedic Institute formed an academic affiliation to create a department of orthopaedic surgery at the University of South Florida. > Pharmaceutical firm Xcelience plans to add 100 jobs and keep another 100 as part of a Tampa expansion that also involves a $9-million investment. > Information technology company Relia- Quest is expanding its Tampa headquarters, creating up to 55 jobs. > Tampa’s Odyssey Marine Exploration signed a deal to give up majority control to a Mexican mining company. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is seeking regulatory approval to build a 1.2-million-sq.-ft. hotel at its Tampa complex.

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