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the past three years the City has awarded 52 grants totaling $234,15…that has been used for interior renovations to outdated buildings, new signage, facade and landscape improvements,” McLachlan wrote.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