Dozens chime in on future of closed St. Pete grocery store

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Dozens of community members and business owners gathered to discuss the future of Tangarine Plaza in midtown St. Petersburg Thursday evening.

The plaza was home to the Walmart Neighborhood Market, which recently closed.  The property used to house a Sweetbay Supermarket, which went out of business in 2014.

Mayor Rick Kriseman is now vowing the city will not rush to lure another business to that location.

“If I’m a member of that community … I’m like you, whether it’s the city or the business community, you keep making us promises and you’re not really delivering,”  said Kriseman.  “You’re giving us window dressing that looks good for a year or two and then it’s gone.”

Business owners and employees in that plaza were devastated when learned the anchor store would be no more.  Jamekka Harris owns MeMe’s Beauty Gallery.  She’s been in the plaza since 2007, so this is the second time she’s experienced this loss.

“My second time.  Tremendously.  Last time I lost a lot of my income.  Walk in flow.  New people,”  said Harris.  “Don’t have any customers.  We don’t have no walk ins … Just no flow.”

Jamekka’s sister Janae is a nail technician at the salon.  She says the loss could be life changing for her.

“I may have to get another job or find another career path,” said Janae Harris. “I have children, I have a family so it’s a big loss, a big hit.”

Alex Smiley is a stylist and is already feeling the pinch.

“Just with the Walmart leaving, we’re losing our people. We’re losing our flow, our cash flow,” said Smiley.  “All our extra money and people just don’t have nowhere to go no more.”

Mayor Kriseman does not have a time table on when and who will occupy that real estate.  He says there will likely be a number of additional community outreach sessions before a decision is made.

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