NewsPinellas County


Skyway Marina Mall businesses forced out to make way for development in South St. Pete

Skyway mall
Posted at 6:07 PM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 23:15:14-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The pandemic has been tough for many small businesses and now some in the Tampa Bay area are facing more challenges.

More than 30 mom and pop shops in the Skyway Marina Mall in South St. Petersburg are facing an uncertain future.

For years, the Skyway Marina Mall on 34th Street South served as a one-stop shop for antiques, collectibles, alterations, and even tattoos.

Now, they have just 17 days to find a new place to do business.

“It has just been devastating. The anxiety has been through the roof. I relocated my family here for this business opportunity to branch out to the St. Petersburg area and it’s just been heartbreaking,” said Naomi Forrester.

Forrester just opened her event planning business, Naomi Simoan, at the Skyway Marina Mall in November.

Shortly after spending 6 thousand dollars renovating her corner of the mall, she was given a notice to vacate.

“Everything that I had invested in, everyone who had come out to support me was just vanished,” Forrester added.

Within a few months, a local developer will tear down the mall to make way for luxury apartments, a bank, and a restaurant.

Business owners have been told they have to vacate by February 13th but many of them tell ABC Action News they cannot find another place to relocate that’s as affordable as the Skyway Marina Mall.

“It’s very scary. I’m on social security and this is really subsidizing my monthly income and trying to think of a new place I can afford to move is pretty scary,” Kimbrough Douglass who owns Kimbrough’s Art and Whimsey said.

It comes as a handful of Pinellas County flea markets have recently closed their doors including the Wagon Wheel and 49er Flea Market.

“We’re like a little family in here and we support each other. This is my third location so that means I’ll have to move a portion of my business into my home,” explained Keisha Long-Watson who owns Insparkle Me.

The Skyway Marina District is bursting with new development and luxury apartments are popping up all along 34th Street South. Business owners worry more mom and pop shops will be sent packing.

 “I’d like for city leaders to look at the impacts of the things that they’re permitting,” Douglass added.

ABC Action News reached out to St. Petersburg leaders to find out what they’re doing to help displaced businesses and we are waiting to hear back. The Greenhouse is working to help the small businesses relocate, but entrepreneurs tell ABC Action News most listings are quadruple the price they’re currently paying. 

Meanwhile, community members are stepping up and organizing a final Saturday Morning Shoppe to try to help the mom and pop shops make as much money as they can before loading up the moving trucks.

Saturday morning shoppe

Renee Edwards is the organizer behind the Saturday Morning Shoppe and hopes it will give business owners a boost before they relocate. “How will they feed their families? How will they buy gas? What’s next for them? My idea was to bring the Saturday Morning Shoppe here one last time. Whatever we can do to help them get to the next level,” Edwards added.

The Saturday Morning Shoppe will take place 10 A.M.-3 P.M. Saturday, January 29th in the Skyway Marina Mall parking lot at 4301 34th St S.

Business owners hope it calls attention to the price we’re paying for progress. “Some of these businesses have been here 40 years, 30 years, 20 years. Where are they supposed to go?” Forrester questioned.