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BayWalk Update - The Emperor Has No Clothes | Business

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BayWalk Update - The Emperor Has No Clothes
BayWalk Update - The Emperor Has No Clothes

St. Petersburg, Florida -- An update on the BayWalk Mall in downtown St. Petersburg was presented to the City Council by owner Bill Edwards at Thursday's meeting.  Edwards acquired the beleaguered mall in September 2011.

Edwards, who also operates the Mahaffey Theater and his own Treasure Island Club, seemed eager to rush through the presentation and anxious to leave the podium. The PowerPoint presentation of marketing materials went so fast it was hard to see read what was on them.

Photo Gallery: BayWalk update

Even so, at the end of fast-paced presentation, many Council members gushed with glowing and complimentary comments about him and the presentation.

Council member Dudley told Edwards, "I absolutely am so looking forward...What a blessing it is to have you here."  

Dudley asked if he had visited Cupertino, CA on any of his BayWalk marketing trips, a not-so-veiled question as to whether the new BayWalk might be able to attract an Apple store.  

The reply from Edwards was "No." 

Council member Danner said, "We get these reports fairly often over the last few years, and this one is certainly different than the last few we've had. Great vision.  It's just wow... and look forward to seeing it happen."

Council Vice Chair Newton chimed in, "Mr. Edwards that's going to be beautiful. Opening that thing up. You are right once you get inside that thing (BayWalk) it is like a fortress.  Unless you got canons you're going to fire over at the other side it will be great to open it up.  I think that's going to be a great compliment to the area and if it is anything like what you have done at the Mahaffey...you've done a great job over there."

Council Chair Curran said,  "Thank you Bill for coming today.  Just the idea of what you are going to bring makes us all excited!"

Basically, however, the presentation didn't have much of true substance to report.  A conceptual drawing of how Baywalk might look, which Edwards referred to as Option A, was shown, along with slides of the marketing materials that have been developed.

His team was in New York City recently reaching out to retailers about coming to BayWalk.

He has power washed the interior and exterior of the structure, tripled the security and their hours of security coverage plus he has added 32 security cameras.

Muvico has experienced an increase in moviegoers since the security updates have been in place, according to Edwards.

The empty windows have been filled with window graphics, pictorial visions of what could be there.  Reference was made that movie star Selena Gomez had recently walked through the nearly empty mall.

As far as actual timing for a comeback, Edwards said the concepts presented would take at least 12 to 13 months to be realized.  To date he did not announce any restaurants or retailers that had committed to the space. 

He said he intends to limit restaurants to three iconic restaurants, including an iconic steakhouse and, "You will recognize the names when we announce them," he said.

Within BayWalk, he s aiming to have a mix of retailers - ladies and men's clothing, shoes, things that you cannot get in downtown today. He jokingly referred to how much he and his wife like to shop so the shopping mix was bound to succeed. 

He made a point of saying that he wants Baywalk to compliment, not compete, with the Beach Drive businesses. 

The gist of the presentation seems to be that there have been many meetings. BayWalk is being aggressively marketed but no restaurants or retailers have signed on the bottom line yet. Edwards preference to go with Option A was apparent as it was the only one presented.

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