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Sundial To Open New Food Hall In Downtown St. Petersburg

Sundial in St. Petersburg
Sundial shopping plaza in downtown St. Petersburg will have a new look by the end of next year, as a new food hall will replace a number of current storefronts, including Locale Market. COURTESY MARK SCHREINER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Sundial will soon become home to a new food hall. Locale Market and FarmTable Cucina, as well as some other businesses located in the downtown St. Petersburg shopping plaza, will close by the end of this year as a result.

The main developer of the plaza is BE-1 Concepts, the same team that built Tampa’s Armature Works. Chas Bruck, co-owner for BE-1 Concepts, said that the redevelopment of the 25,000 square foot space will begin in early 2020. The work should be completed next fall.

Somewhere between gourmet and buffet, the food hall will mimic the urban style strip of Armature’s restaurant stalls but will be run by completely different vendors. None have yet been disclosed.

The redevelopment means the end of Locale Market and FarmTable Cucina, which were among the anchors of Sundial since the plaza reopened in 2014.

“The last five years has been an incredible experience and we feel honored to have helped shape the food culture in St. Petersburg,” commented Michael Mina, a chef and a partner in Locale Market and FarmTable Cucina. “With so many other projects and opportunities in front of me, I felt now was the right time to pass the torch. I am beyond excited to see what Chas [Bruck] and his team have cooked up for this community.”

The Wellness Center at Sundial and D-Gallerie Fine Arts will also be closed.

Inside of Locale Market
Locale Market will close to make room for a new food hall in downtown St. Petersburg's Sundial. COURTESY MARK SCHREINER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

University of South Florida professor and former Tampa Bay Times food editor Janet Keeler said although the closings may upset some, the food hall is a good idea.

“It kind of makes sense,” Keeler said. “It's expensive to open a restaurant and this idea of  pooling resources where you have a lot of vendors in one place, it cuts the price down for people and it allows them to focus on the food and the experience.”

With the food hall trend rising in the Tampa Bay area, the new development should bring more attention back to Sundial.

"We have a lot of foot traffic in downtown St. Pete, there's a lot of people that are walking around because there are events down on the waterfront," said Keeler, a contributer to the WUSF podcast, The Zest.  "So I think it'll definitely be an interesting concept."

Bill Edwards, the owner of Sundial, bought the location for $5.2 million in 2011 when the shopping center was known as BayWalk. He has put over $40 million in renovations since then.

“When I first developed Sundial, I intended it to be a catalyst for growth in downtown St. Pete. Chas and his team created Armature Works to do the same thing for Tampa. I know that in joining forces we will create an incredible gathering place for residents and visitors alike,” said Edwards in a press release. “We are confident this will further elevate Sundial as a destination beyond St. Petersburg."

Armature Works dates back to 1910, when it was the storage and maintenance facility for Tampa Electric’s streetcars. When BE-1 Concepts developers saw more to the old building, Heights Public Market, the food hall within Armature Works, was born.

“We are very excited to extend our brand across the bay and into downtown St. Petersburg,” commented Bruck. “While we have an ambitious timeline for completion, we look forward to launching this unique food hall experience for the entire community to enjoy.”

Manelle Kheireddine is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for fall 2019.
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