ZEPHYRHILLS — Zephyrhills officials want to give the intersection of U.S. 301 and State Road 54 a new look as part of the efforts to beautify the city’s historic district through city-funded grants.
State Road 54 dead-ends into U.S. 301 in the center of the historic district and is the oldest east-west artery into the city. The intersection is considered one of the gateways into Zephyrhills.
City Council members heard a report on Sept. 16 from Gina Granger, Main Street Zephyrhills executive director, and looked at drawings made by historic architect John R. Link of Kissimmee outlining changes that could be made to the intersection’s southwest corner. Seven buildings in that area would undergo improvements as part of the effort.
The work will include repainting the structures and construction of new facades to a period look, matching the style on Fifth Avenue, Granger said. Original awnings will also be restored.
The southwest corner features a mural that was painted on the side of an RV supply store during the city’s centennial celebration in 2010. The block also has a hardware store, a parking lot, a storage building, a drapery shop and a bike shop.
“I think that block, that intersection, is key,” said Granger. “That’s the main core intersection of the city right now; it leaves you with a certain impression, and we want to change that impression. It will help improve the impression people have about this town.”
Granger said that all of the property owners on that corner had applied for community development façade grants with the city. As the city’s grant committee looked over the applications, they became concerned that individual businesses might make improvements that did not complement each another.
“These buildings are contiguous [except for a parking entrance in the center]. If you let the business do what they think they should do, you might not have a contiguous feel to it,” Granger said.
The grant committee, which includes Granger, City Councilwoman Jodi Wilkeson, City Director of Development Services Todd Vande Berg and City Manager Jim Drumm, decided to ask Link to look at the site and develop a design that would be complementary, historically accurate and aesthetically pleasing. The property owners must agree to the changes.
The grants allow up to $6,000 per business, whether applied for by the business owner or property owner. The properties on the block are owned by Ernest Peeples, who owns the Hynes Discount Mobile Home Supply Center buildings, Mike McCollum, who owns Moody Hardware, and a Tampa Bay management company named Cougar Management, which owns the Drapes and More building and D&G Green Products, the bike shop.
Granger was pleased that Peeples and McCollum liked the conceptual drawings.
“I like the drawings; they’re very attractive,” Peeples said. “I just liked the idea of the brick stucco look. What I’m interested in is what it’s going to cost. We haven’t worked on that yet. That’s the next stage.”
Granger has not yet discussed changes with Cougar Management.
The improvements suggested would likely cost more than the $6,000 per business supplied by the grants. The additional funds would come from the property owners. In order to get the grant, a property owner must be willing to spend a minimum of $500 of their own money.