ST. PETERSBURG — Entrepreneurs looking to open up shop in the Edge District may need to act fast.
By the end of the year, many empty storefronts in this neighborhood just west of downtown will be filled with new bars, art studios and one of the city’s most anticipated craft breweries.
Ground-floor retail space that has remained empty since the opening of the Fusion 1560 apartment building, across from Tropicana Field, two years ago will be occupied this fall.
The Flying Pig Tap House, a neighborhood craft beer bar with 50 taps, and Pinot’s Palette, a franchise that combines wine tasting with art lessons, will fill out much of Fusion’s retail space.
Flying Pig co-owner Rebecca Glass said she and her husband, Joe, could see the boom in downtown St. Petersburg extending into the Edge, which runs from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street to 16th Street, along Central Avenue and First avenues north and south.
“We could see the development and redevelopment coming outward, so we wanted to get ahead of that,” said Glass, who expects to open in October.
The district has had several stops and starts since Tropicana Field was built in 1990, near First Avenue South and 16th Street.
In 2011, the opening of Fusion kicked off a new wave of businesses eager to cater to the young professional residents moving in.
Fusion’s mixed-use model of putting apartments above retail is being followed by many residential buildings under construction downtown. Despite filling up with tenants, Fusion’s retail lagged, even as the surrounding area was taking off.
Glass says there are enough people living above the Flying Pig, or a short walk away, to support a neighborhood bar that taps into the city’s growing craft beer craze.
With eateries ranging from Cuban to vegan, late-night coffee shops and art galleries, the Edge District is also becoming a favored spot for people looking to get away from the rowdy downtown scene, other business owners say.
Amy and Robert Davis and their business partners hope to appeal to that crowd with the Bearded Thistle, a whiskey bar at 48 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.
“You’ve got a lot of people that are wanting to spend more time up here,” said Amy Davis, who also runs the downtown bar Octave.
“They’re wanting to get into an area that’s a little more local-focused.”
The Bearded Thistle will offer everything from traditional Irish and Scottish whiskeys to Canadian and Asian varieties, ranging in price from a $5 shot to $350 for high-end scotch such as Highland Park, Davis said.
Nearby, construction is underway at The Amsterdam, a European-style beer and wine bar at the roundabout at 1049 Central Ave.
Several other businesses, ranging from artists to attorneys, are also moving in, said LeAnn Barlas, who heads up the Edge District’s business association.
Next month’s much-anticipated opening of Green Bench Brewing Co. near the corner of First Avenue North and 11th Street will neighborhood even more of a destination, Barlas said.
This fall, local business owners will ask the City Council for $25,000 to hire a district manager to run the business association and hope to apply to the state next year for designation as a Main Street organization.