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Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Ex-BayWalk plaza to get upscale overhaul

ST. PETERSBURG — The long wait to find out what shops and restaurants are coming to the former BayWalk retail plaza is almost over.

Developer Bill Edwards said Thursday that an announcement about new tenants for the plaza that he is rebranding as an upscale retail and dining plaza, dubbed the Shops at St. Pete, will be made on or about Jan. 1. He estimates the $30 million overhaul of the 80,000-square-foot site on Second Avenue North could be complete by March, with some of the mall opening soon after.

“We should be pretty close by March 1, the shell should be complete,” Edwards said.

The plaza is intended to compete with International Plaza for the Bay area’s upscale shoppers. Plans show the replacement of the center’s Mediterranean revival-style architecture with a sleek modernist look that includes large Jumbotron screens housed in two of the four proposed towers.

The ground floor plaza will become a venue for fashion shows, wine tastings, food-themed shows and other events to attract shoppers. The terrace will include covered balconies and shops with al fresco dining.

BayWalk opened in 2000. Its mix of a movie house, shops, bars and restaurants was intended to revitalize the city’s downtown. But it became a magnet for large crowds of teenagers and a regular site for protestors. Customers complained they did not feel safe and went away. Most of the stores went soon after.

Edwards bought the site in 2011 for about $5 million. The project has missed several deadlines for announcing new tenants, but Edwards said the businesses lined up to move in will make the plaza “world class.”

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