Mayor Bill Foster, City Council Chair Leslie Curran, members of City Council, local business leaders and the 600 Block tenants are holding a grand opening of the newly renovated Crislip Arcade and the surrounding 600 Block at 645 Central Avenue on April 6 at 10 a.m. Refreshments will be served.
Recent plans to demolish the arcade and the adjacent properties on the 600 block for a new mixed-use redevelopment were dashed as the economy declined, leaving a vacant and blighted Crislip Arcade and the adjacent 600 Block. Pinstripe Marketing Owner Ginger Reichl led the effort to refurbish the block, and approached Crislip’s new owner Thomas Gaffney to do a facelift of the building.
Recognizing the value of the arcade, the 600 Block, and the role of art/creative class in St. Petersburg, City Council Chair Leslie Curran got involved with the effort and approached Gaffney with the vision to develop the arcade as an accessible home to emerging artists. She and local businesses, including Pinstripe Marketing, Studio@620, J Allan Studios, and St Petersburg Preservation, spearheaded the efforts of a Crislip Cleanup’ last summer.
“Art is a significant economic engine in a community. This is the first of many revitalization projects to support that effort. We are excited about this opportunity to foster creative artists of our community in a business environment that is easily accessible to all,” said Council Chair Curran.
The Crislip Arcade, designed by architect Edgar Ferdon for businessman John A. Crislip, is an example of the traditional masonry vernacular-style architecture built during the Florida Land Boom of the 1920s. The arcade holds significant architectural and cultural history since it was designed by the city’s first architect and is only one of three arcades remaining in St. Petersburg.
“We are grateful to Thomas Gaffney, owner of the arcade, for renovating his property and opening the doors to a new cluster of artistic usinesses in this area,” said Mayor Bill Foster. “The Crislip Arcade is a cornerstone of downtown St. Petersburg’s great history and we welcome the new businesses to carry on the tradition.”
More than 20 spaces (eight inside the arcade plus up to 14 outdoor spaces) were available for emerging artists. Creative entrepreneurs have already committed to leasing spaces on the block, including Vitale Art & Design Studio, Dazzio Art, Blue Lucy, The Donna Gordon Art Gallery and Misred. Other artists such as sculptor Mike Elwell and local fish artist Bill Correira (known as B.C. Woo) are also opening soon around this unique structure and continue to contribute to the diverse art community on Central Avenue and throughout St. Petersburg.