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Changes on Main Street Signify Downtown Growth

A number of businesses in and around downtown Safety Harbor have recently closed or relocated, and more are moving in or expanding. What are your thoughts on all the changes?

The “For Sale” sign is gone from the window of Captain’s Pizza, and there is word another local merchant might be moving in soon.

Down the street, Great Clips recently cleared out of its Harbour Pointe shop, while Antiques and Aardvarks is about to expand. 

Meanwhile, Nantucket Bucket, a seafood restaurant on Second Street, recently opened to much fanfare, while Southern Fresh on Third Avenue has seen success in the short time the eatery has been open. 

So what does all this movement mean for Safety Harbor's downtown district? Changes are in the air, and interest in opening a business in the area is at a high point, according to city officials.

“We're starting to see private investment come back in the form of new businesses starting up, homes being built, and properties being renovated,” community development director Matt McLachlan said via email.

“The City supports and encourages any entrepreneur with the means, vision, and guts to the grow the downtown in a manner that is compatible with our long-range plans and codes.”

While the reasons behind the movements vary — Great Clips reportedly relocated to Northwoods Commons, according to McLachlan, and Captain’s Pizza closed after 30 years following a health code violations scandal — there’s no doubt people, and businesses, are eager to fill the voids being created.

“We needed more space, so when the neighboring storefront became available, we decided to open another location,” Antiques to Aardvarks owner Alex Sabo said of the open space two doors down at 314 Main St. 

“We signed the contact this past weekend, and we’ll be working on the place and getting ready to open Antiques to Aardvarks II in a couple of weeks.”

And while some deals do not go through, such as the many failed attempts to develop the property at 509 Main St., there is enough interest, and assistance from the city, to facilitate growth in the downtown district.

"Through the Downtown Partnership Program, over the past three years the City has awarded 52 grants totaling $234,15…that has been used for interior renovations to outdated buildings, new signage, facade and landscape improvements,” McLachlan wrote. 

“There continues to be strong interest in the downtown with a dwindling supply of move-in ready space for new businesses,” he added. 

“We bend over backwards to help business owners out. Our goal is to see the entire Main Street and all of the avenues thriving with activity.”

So tell us, Harborites: What do you think of all the new developments downtown? And what kind of businesses would you like to see move in? Let us know in the comments below.

Robert Saltzman November 02, 2012 at 12:47 PM
It all boils down to customers to support the businesses. Like I said at the Forum in order for businesses to flourish we must support them. If I am elected I want to organize a business symposium to brainstorm on how to get people to shop our downtown. I believe the key is advertising, as downtown is expanding up and down the Avenues we need to get people not only on Main St but to visit lour “Jewels” off the beaten track. When business is good put up a sign when business is bad put up a bigger sign. Vote to Elect Robert "Bobby" Saltzman Candidate for City of Safety Harbor Commission Seat #1 http://www.thinkbobby.com "THINK BOBBY"
Jeffrey Rosenfield November 02, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Thanks for the comments Dr. Linder and Bobby. You both bring up valid points.
Rob Edmonds November 02, 2012 at 07:09 PM
To add to what has already been said,there needs to be more parking to support the businesses.It is such a pain having to park 2 or 3 blocks off Main St. when there is something going on downtown.
Jeffrey Rosenfield November 02, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Good point Rob. Although having covered many other Patch communities with similar downtown districts, I can say that parking is an issue everywhere. When you get in a quaint downtown setting, the only parking options are off the main street or to build a garage, which no one wants. Plus the walking encourages visiting more businesses in the area. Thanks for your input!
JC November 03, 2012 at 01:32 AM
I have noticed an increasing and bad trend along Bayshore, Phillippe Pkwy, and Hwy 580 in Safety Harbor over the past several months. Cars racing and red lining motorcycles early on weekend mornings and many late evenings. I have even been passed on the double yellow line by cars on both Bayshore and Phillippe Pkwy within the past 2 weeks. What is going on…we are primarily residential here! Maybe, with any growth in Safety Harbor (especially the more and more drinking establishments), the existing road structure can't handle the selfish driving that results. I can't think of any other reason for this. “Growth" may be threatening a reason many of us love Safety Harbor - the peace and quiet! And of course, the new Mullet Park, the Marina Park expansion downtown, and the future Courtney Campbell Causeway trail will bring more walkers, bicyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts to our town, and vehicles passing through our town - directly conflicting with our single lane residential streets. If this future is left unmanaged, someone will get hurt or killed along our little city's roadways. We need to get in front of this. I am not a fan, but we require SERIOUS traffic calming measures or clearly marked lowered speed limits along our main thoroughfares. As an example, 40 to 45 mph on some parts of Bayshore and Philippe Pkwy? Really? That's the same speed as McMullen Booth and that road is 2 lane divided. Leaving things to work themselves out does not seem to be working.

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