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Tampa art gallery, theater worried about the future with new development project looming

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Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 17:51:59-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Fran Powers founded PowerStories theater, which is focused on helping girls and young women tell their stories.

“When you get to spend your days helping people feel empowered. Transform their lives through art, which I love, then it’s a good thing,” she said.

Next door, Jose Gomez runs the House of Shadows Gallery.

He calls it a unique space for artists.

“We do very controversial topics. Topics that are very special interest,” he said.

But now, both business owners are worried about their future.

They just found out through a sign in the alley that their building on Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa could soon be rezoned and torn down for a commercial and residential project.

“The developers are coming in they are buying out the entire block. And we were just informed a couple of days ago that this building is going to be torn down. And a parking lot is literally going to be in its place,” said Powers.

The owners of these businesses said they understand the hot real estate market makes it tempting to sell.

They just want to be given a chance to survive.

“We are seeing this as a potential push into another phase of our business. But at the same time, it’s not one that we are really choosing. It’s not one that we are able to strategize around. It’s one that we might have to do as just a matter of emergency,” said Gomez.

“We get the big business. We get it. But what we don’t get is not having the integrity to let us know on time to give us advanced warning. We feel like we were kind of blindsided by this.” said Powers.

The business owners said they are going to the city council to speak out against the rezoning request.

The city said it’s not appropriate to make a statement on the rezoning question because it’s a quasi-judicial matter that will be denied by the council.

In the meantime, PowerStories will keep putting on performances.

And the House of Shadows will continue to showcase art.

But both know they might soon have to do it somewhere else.