High rent forces St. Pete restaurant out of Edge District

Posted at 5:10 PM, Jul 14, 2016

Progress is pushing out a St. Petersburg staple. Ricky P's Orleans Bistro has to move out of the booming Edge District.

What you now see in the seven blocks along Central Ave between MLK and 16th was once just a pipe dream.

“It was like a manifest destiny, it was go west young man, so we knew downtown was moving this way,” Rick Parsons said.

He just didn't know how quickly. Parsons was one of the first businesses to move into the Edge District nearly 5 years ago. Since then, Bodega popped up across the street and Green Bench Brewing behind them. In all, 43 new projects have come along in just the last two years.

“We know the growth of this area was going to demand a rent increase... We had hoped that that increase was going to be something that was affordable for us," Parsons said.

He said his rent would shoot up 30 to 40 percent over the next four years, so he decided to move. The Edge District's Barbara Voglewede said they're trying to increase rent bit by bit, but some spaces have doubled their price per square foot in the last two years.

“It is going to out-price some folks, and there will be some changes, but for the most part, I think we’re trying to work toward a more gradual rent increase than a dramatic one," Voglewede said.

The district has added nearly 150 full-time jobs and more than 50 part-time jobs. Two years ago, Voglewede said 15 buildings were vacant. Now, just are open to be leased.

“That’s an indicator of success, even though it may come at a price for some," Voglewede said.

Parsons is looking at this as a chance to be a pioneer once again, focusing on catering. His new business will be Ricky P's Creole Kitchen at 11002 4th St. North

“It just happened sooner than we thought," he said.