'Deuces' neighborhood revitalization taking hold

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The arrival of new, small businesses may herald the success of a 20 year effort to revive "The Deuces," the one-time heart of St. Petersburg's African American community. 

Friday, Annie Tyrell celebrated the ribbon cutting for her new beauty supply store in the 900 block of 22nd Street South. She actually opened the doors several weeks ago, and said business is good.

"The community is welcoming over here. They're glad to have a beauty supply store right here that they can walk tom" she said.

Through the era of racial segregation, The Deuces was the main street for the minority population.  The beginning of the end was the construction of Interstate 275. 

"For this community, that's been a dividing point, because that's what took out a lot of the homes and the businesses," Gallerie 909 owner Carla Bristol explained. "That interstate cut through the community, without any entrance or exits." 

The interstate, and the end of segregation ushered in a couple of decades of decline. 

Since the late 1990s, there have been several large public projects along 22nd Street South. 

"But you didn't have small businesses filling in," Deuces Live! coordinator Veatrice Farrell told FOX 13 News. "Now we're seeing small businesses filling in those spaces and that's how you can tell that the revitalization is happening."

There are a couple of new restaurants in the 900 block. Further to the north, a warehouse arts district is growing toward the divisive overpass. There is also a request to light, landscape and paint murals on the street level underpass. 

Numerous murals have already been painted on several buildings. 

"There is a very strategic direction to ensure that all the murals look like the history that was here," Bristol said. "All the great musicians, all of the great businesses that were already here."