Businesses on St. Pete's Central Ave. feel weight of rising rent, chains

- For quite some time, Shelly Hise has been running the St. Pete Shirt Company in the iconic 600 block of Central Avenue.

"It's an artsy community. People love to spend their time walking up and down the street," Hise said.

She fears the small, mom and pop-style boutiques that have been the backbone of Central Avenue's character will be forced out by big business. 

She says her rent has already skyrocketed.

"Doubled or tripled, we don’t know if we can stay here,” Hise said.

More than a year ago, Mayor Kriseman held a march on Central Avenue to rally support for an ordinance to restrict what types of businesses a developer could put in specific areas of the city. 

Chains like Starbucks or McDonald's wouldn’t be allowed on Central under the proposal.

"It's important as the city grows that we don't lose what makes us special,” Kriseman said.

After a year of no action, small business owners are getting frustrated.

"We haven't seen a lot happening. We just saw a chain open up across the street,"  Hise said.

Kriseman says the idea got lost during last year’s mayoral election and he didn't want to politicize the issue.

Some fear even talking about the proposal could drive developers away from the entire St. Pete market. Kriseman says he wants to strike a balance that keeps everyone happy and hopes to have something presented to city council by the end of the year.

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