March In The News - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
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March In The News

March In The News

A collection of interesting happenings and recent developments that contribute to the bright future of Greater Tampa Bay.

It’s a Mural-cle! 

The St. Petersburg City Council just approved funding for a new 45-spot parking lot alongside the I-375 park. The parking lot is part of a bigger picture: renovating underutilized lands and connecting the neighborhoods. Eventually, the I-375 lot will allow visitors to park while attending fairs, block parties or just using the dog-friendly area. 

To further the beautification efforts, the Florida Department of Transportation has agreed to have public art murals under I-375. The murals will cover the concrete walls of the overpass and the seven columns lining the sidewalk on Martin Luther King Street. These areas will be downlit at night to provide safety, connectivity and a nice backdrop. 

Whoever Melt It, Dealt It 

The Melting Pot is back! The fondue-famous eatery leased a new 4,900 square foot space. Renovations to that building have been ongoing for two years, with plans to completely redevelop it.  

As for the Melting Pot, they broke ground at their new location in February. The interior and exterior modifications will take at least nine months. The new vision will include balconies on the second floor, as well as a full bar. The new location on Central Avenue will likely open late this year, or early 2024.  

It is Virtually Possible 

Sense Arena, a Czech Republic technology company, made their Virtual Reality tennis debut at the University of South Florida. The Vice President of Sense Arena’s tennis division, Yannick Yoshizawa, graduated from USF in 2012. Yoshizawa started a one-month partnership with the school to improve the university’s tennis program rankings. 

The software, which includes a VR headset and a vibrating racket, mimics the look and feel of playing tennis. One of the main attractions of VR training is the prevention of player injury. Players are able to practice hitting, serving and other drills without fear of getting hurt. They are also able to hone their decision making and reaction time skills safely.  

Safer Streets 

The Safe Streets for All grant is using the $800 million budget to repave the way to safer roads and fewer traffic fatalities. Of the $67 million going to the state of Florida, Tampa and Hillsborough County rake in more than half at $39.7 million.  

Both Tampa and Hillsborough will use their portions to implement their Vision Zero programs. The program aims to reduce all road deaths and injuries to zero. Part of the project will include resurfacing roads and sidewalks, as well as resizing the streets. The grant will also pay for mid-block crosswalks, curb extensions and bike lanes.  

All You Can Eat (And Drink) 

This April, the first annual Tampa Bay Food & Wine Festival is coming to Curtis Hixon Park, Hyde Park and other areas around Tampa. The multi-day event will feature a wide variety of sampling events, culinary competitions, tasting demonstrations and other activities.  

The festival is partnered with Community Initiatives Foundation’s EAT SMART campaign to support the health and wellness of the area’s youth. Live music will take over the scenic waterfront of Curtis Hixon Park along with endless food and drink vendors.  

Baddest of the Bad  

Bad Mother, a newer coffee shop in St. Pete, is hosting an educational coffee panel and latte art throwdown. The experimental café opened in August at Station House in downtown St. Pete. Bad Mother is the first stop on the Central Florida Coffee Circuit sponsored by SoFlo and Oatly.  

The following day will see 32 of Tampa Bay’s bravest baristas battle for cash prizes, merchandise and a Black Rabbit coffee grinder. There will be a local DJ and food and drink vendors during the event. A few lucky attendees will have the opportunity to be inked up by the owner of Bed of Roses Tattoo Studio.  

Very Well Endowed 

Shorecrest Preparatory School received a record-breaking $1 million endowment to create the Ross Roeder Institute for Economics, Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship. The donation was made by Mary Anne Reilly, a former trustee and alumni parent, in honor of her late husband, Ross Roeder. 

The new program is set to begin in the 2023-2024 school year. Along with creating a faculty chair within the school that will focus on financial literacy, the program will include a “SHORETank” competition. A play on the famous “Shark Tank” TV show, the competition will give students the opportunity to vie for internships with business owners.  

Tune In for a Fireside Chat 

Friend Forward is hosting Fireside, an intimate networking experience. Founder of Friend Forward, friendship coach and educator, Danielle Bayard Jackson, is Keynote speaker at the event. For the first time in her 10-year career, she will share her knowledge and coaching in the intimate environment.  

Designed to promote female relationships, both personal and professional, the event will also include other women speakers, entrepreneurs and business owners. Fireside aims to not only bring 100 women together, but to cultivate meaningful relationships between them. It is women supporting women in its truest and best form. 

With Extra Pickleball on the Side 

Downtown St. Pete is getting a 1.6-acre, full scale pickleball athletic club. St. Pete Athletic will have 16 professional pickleball courts, nine of which will be indoors. Fans of the sport will get a chance to work with the No. 12 pickleball player in the world, Travis Rettenmaier, who will serve as the club’s Resident Pro.  

Aside from pickleball, the complex will have other gym equipment, cornhole, Spikeball and more for guests to play and enjoy. St. Pete Athletic will also have a full-service restaurant and bar, outdoor lounge seating and TVs for those who prefer to relax and observe. The club is slated to open late 2023. 

See Also

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! 

Dade City welcomes back the 16th Bay Area Renaissance Festival. For seven uniquely themed weekends, guests can travel back in time to experience the jesters, jugglers and jousters of Medieval Fittlesworth.  

Patrons can also shop for handmade goods from any of the more than 100 artisans and stands. The fair is also introducing their new Children’s Realm, petting zoo and Swordmaster Challenge. If the magic is not enough, the mead tastings and pub crawls certainly will be.  

Enter: The Estuary 

James Renew, owner of Clearwater’s Little Lamb Gastropub, is opening his newest venture in downtown New Port Richey. The Estuary is going to be locally and regionally focused, with seasonal foods for both surf and turf lovers alike.  

Best described as contemporary and elevated, The Estuary is sure to become a local hotspot. In late February, the restaurant opened with a soft-launch and accepted limited reservations. Eventually, all 150 seats will be filled with satisfied customers enjoying brunch, lunch, dinner and crafty –– locally distilled –– cocktails.

The Deal of the Dynasty 

Dynasty Financial Partners announced their exclusive non-binding letter of intent to acquire TruClarity Management Solutions. President and CEO of TruClarity Pam Stross announced she will be joining the Dynasty team as a consultant.  

In early February, the Dynasty Women’s Network hosted a two-day networking event for over 100 women in St. Pete. Stross will help Dynasty to further advocate for female advisors, independent business owners and CEOs.  

Practically, Perfectly Precise in Every Way 

AC Hotel by Marriott in downtown St. Pete has officially opened. The chain prides itself on being the “perfectly precise hotel,” combining form and function. In their newest location, AC has put thought into every facet of the building and experience, from the artwork to the technology to the breakfasts. 

The new eight-floor hotel offers 172 guest rooms, 12 of them suites. There is 2,500 square feet of shared spaces and 1,800 square feet of meeting and event space. AC also has an outdoor pool, state-of-the-art fitness center and a rooftop restaurant, Cane & Barrell.  

By Harper Warner.

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