Handmade and store-bought signs are popping up in the neighborhood — in front of homes and on street corners — to protest a Family Dollar store proposed for a prime Florida Avenue property.
About 50 people showed up recently at a local restaurant to voice opinions and plan strategy to block the chain store, which would open at 5100 N. Florida Ave. A protest campaign since has been launched via a Facebook page and website — www.nofamilydollar.com.
The proposed Family Dollar site is on a commercial block between Hillsborough Avenue and Violet Street that has bloomed in recent years with locally-owned shops and restaurants, including Sherry's YesterDaze Vintage Clothing & Antiques, Forever Beautiful Salon & Day Spa, The Refinery, Cappy's Pizzeria and The Independent.
Long-time resident Dean Rands, who attended the meeting, has planted a few homemade signs on street corners and in his yard.
"It's (Family Dollar), a big box store in a historical neighborhood," Rands said. "It will take away from the small business person and put big box right in the middle of everything else."
City officials say a review of zoning regulations shows Family Dollar is allowed to have its store at that location. There are no requests, such as a waiver on the number of required parking spaces, that would trigger a public hearing before Tampa City Council.
"Some people feel they would desire a higher dollar retail to open," said Bob McDonaugh, the city's economic development director. "The city doesn't have a position on that."
But, he said, "The building is zoned properly. They aren't asking for variances."
The building is owned by Waites, Shaw, Myers Co., Hillsborough County records show. The owners' offices are there as well as other tenants including Van Gogh Signs & Displays. Tenants reportedly have been given 30 days to vacate the building.
A local family dollar representative could not be reached for comment.
Resident Tom Sweet said he is "very pro-business." But he plans to put a protest sign in his front yard.
"I love things like The Independent and The Refinery and the resurgence in the neighborhood," he said. "We really want to see more of that. Family Dollar doesn't fit into that. This is a chain moving in that doesn't have ties to the neighborhood."
Residents noted that Family Dollar has five or six stores in the area, including ones on Nebraska and Hillsborough avenues.
"Why do we need more?" said Sherry King, owner of YesterDaze. "We're trying to develop nice, neighborhood services here. That really is not the focus of this store (Family Dollar)."