Southwest Florida Roundup
St. Petersburg welcomes 2 new art venues: the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement and Fairgrounds St. Pete
Arts and Aliens
St. Petersburg has two new arts venues: A $90-million museum downtown focused on American arts and crafts and an immersive art and technology experience housed in a former 15,000-sq.-ft. factory in the city’s warehouse arts district.
The five-story, 137,000-sq.-ft. Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, which opened in late 2021, houses more than 2,000 objects from businessman Rodolfo “Rudy” Ciccarello’s collection of arts and crafts furniture, ceramics, tiles, glass and lighting. It’s the world’s only museum dedicated to the late 19th- and early 20th-century American arts and crafts movement. The building, featuring a protruding white ovoid on its exterior and a spiral staircase inside, was designed by Tampa-based Alfonso Architects.
South of downtown, the new Fairgrounds St. Pete attraction features the work of more than 60 artists who re-created a kitschy, old Florida roadside motel — from the lobby to a guest room to a pool area, all bathed in flashing lights and music — that tells a story of an otherworldly Florida intertwined with mermaids, cats, the Everglades, hurricanes, strawberry pastry and, perhaps, aliens. The attraction was co-founded by Liz Dimmitt and Mikhail Mansion and received funding from supporters including Jeff and Penny Vinik.
- Fort Myers-based Seagate Development Group has hired Iain McGill as CFO. McGill had been an executive with the Federal Realty Investment Trust. The Naples Senior Center is building a 30,000-sq.-ft. building in North Naples. Projected to cost $30 million, the building is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
- Pinellas County commissioners agreed to spend $14.7 million to build a business incubator south of downtown St. Petersburg. The center is scheduled to open by July 2023.
- Ralph Wilcox, the University of South Florida’s provost and executive vice president since 2008, plans to step down this year but remain at the school in a teaching role.
- Orlando Health plans to build a 136-bed hospital in Lakeland, south of the Polk Parkway. The hospital, scheduled to open in fall 2024, will have 24 emergency-care beds.
- Heather Higgins has been appointed CEO of TGH Rehabilitation Hospital, an 80-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital expected to open later this year in Tampa. The facility specializes in care for patients recovering from strokes, brain and spinal cord injuries and neurological diseases, among other conditions.
- GuideWell has opened a primary care medical clinic in Winter Haven, the company’s first in Polk County. The facility will include a Florida Blue insurance office.
- The Channel Club, a 22-story apartment building with 324 units in downtown Tampa, has sold for $136 million. The 2-year-old building was purchased by Snell Properties and sold by the ECI Group. The tower sits atop a Publix supermarket, which was not part of the sale.
- Furniture retailer W.S. Badcock has been sold to the Franchise Group for $580 million. Based in Mulberry and founded in 1904, the previously family-owned W.S. Badcock operates 383 Badcock furniture stores in eight states. The Franchise Group is based in Virginia and owns brands including the Vitamin Shoppe, Pet Supplies Plus, Sylvan Learning and Buddy’s Home Furnishings.
- Shufflrr, which develops marketing presentation software, has relocated from New York to Tampa. The company plans to fill 30 jobs in sales, business development and account management within three years.
- Charlotte County’s tourist development tax generated more than $6 million during fiscal year 2021, an increase of $1.6 million over 2020, according to the Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor and Convention Bureau.
- The University of South Florida and Tampa-based McKibbon Hospitality announced a partnership that will allow hospitality students at USF to learn management skills at McKibbon properties. McKibbon manages more than 100 hotels nationally, including properties in Tampa, Clearwater, Sarasota, Fort Myers and Lakeland.
- The Airports Council International-North America appointed Ben Siegel, executive director of the Lee County Port Authority, to serve a two-year term on the U.S. Policy Council, which oversees federal legislation and regulations affecting airports.
- Spirit Airlines has started non-stop service four times a week between Southwest Florida International Airport and Manchester, N.H.
- Port Manatee has extended its partnership with Del Monte Fresh Produce, which will continue to have an import hub at the port at least through 2026, with plans to extend the agreement to 2036.
- Deron Somerset Webb is the Punta Gorda Airport’s new air center general manager.
Winter, the bottlenose dolphin with a prosthetic tail who starred in a movie and turned the Clearwater Marine Aquarium into a global tourist attraction, died in November from an intestinal problem. She was thought to be about 16 years old. Discovered entangled in a crab trap off the coast of Cape Canaveral in December 2005, Winter was rescued but suffered serious injuries, including a mangled tail. Transported to Clearwater to recover, the dolphin was fitted with a prosthetic tail and quickly became the aquarium’s star attraction, boosting attendance from 76,000 in 2005 to 740,000 in 2012, the year after the release of Dolphin Tale, a film that told the story of Winter’s rescue and recovery. The aquarium still has Hope, a popular rehab dolphin that was the subject of 2014’s Dolphin Tale 2.