A Different Kind of March in St. Pete
By ANNE LINDBERG, TB Reporter
A march led by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman celebrated locally owned businesses.
ST. PETERSBURG – This city’s streets have been the site of many marches during the past few months.
This afternoon (May 3), another march took place. But this was a different kind of march. It celebrated “Independents,” locally owned and operated small businesses.
“We are marching for our independents, not against anyone or anything,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said.
Kriseman led the Independents March, accompanied by Council members Darden Rice and Lisa Wheeler-Bowman. Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, Olga Bof, founder and president of Keep St. Petersburg Local, and Chris Steinocher, president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce.
Kriseman used the occasion – midway through Small Business Week – to announce the city is working on a plan to help maintain the character of Central Avenue with its locally owned businesses. The proposal is still being developed, but the idea is to create an “independent corridor program” that would include a portion of Beach Drive and would run from the waterfront west on Central to 31st Street N. Locally owned businesses would have priority when locating in that zone. A “formula,” or chain – think Subway, for example – could locate there but would need a variance and the approval of the city to open along that corridor.
Large chains and other businesses would still be welcome in the city, Kriseman said, but would be encouraged to locate along other corridors, such as First Avenues N and S or 34th Street.
“We want Central Avenue to be independent and proud,” Kriseman said.
Rice said one of the goals is to retain Central Avenue’s and St. Petersburg’s character as a mix of neighborhoods and small and large businesses and to make St. Petersburg “grow in a way that celebrates our character….[that] protects our special St. Pete sense of place.”
When the speeches were over, Kriseman led a group of local business owners and residents in a march from the Detroit Hotel condominiums at 215 Central to Punky’s Bar and Grill, 3063 Central Ave. Transportation was provided for the return trip.
For information about St. Petersburg, go to stpete.org.
Photo by Anne Lindberg, TB Reporter.
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