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Hyde Park Village gets new owner, WS Development, and new vision

1:35 PM, Sep 24, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- An investment of money, and an investment of enthusiasm. Those are what's coming to the struggling shopping district of Hyde Park Village in South Tampa.

The outdoor mall has just been sold to WS Development, a Boston area company with deep pockets and big promises.

This is still a vibrant shopping area -- with high-end retail stores and a thriving outdoor market on the weekends. But Hyde Park Village has a problem: several thousand square feet of unrented space.

The village's new owners are saying they'll be using that available space to give this shopping area a whole new character.

Chef Ricardo Castro opened his French bakery, Piquant, in Hyde Park Village eight months ago.

He didn't know his kind of shop -- not a big chain, kinda quirky -- would end up being the sort of store the area's new owners plan to recruit big-time to open up here.

High-end, smaller stores with unique styles or local flair are the type Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says the developers will aim to bring in.

The company that bought this outdoor mall spread over five upscale blocks briefed Buckhorn before the purchase was shared with the public.

WS Development, the buyer, is one of America's largest mall operators, but their work has all been in the Northeast until now.

The outdoor mall here opened the year "Back to the Future" came out, 1985 -- and the layout has been basically "frozen in time" since then.

The new owners pledge to spend a bundle on upgrades and incentives -- a lot more than just new paint and plants -- as investments to grow what they're calling "South Tampa's Downtown."

No timeline has been set yet for changes to the village. WS Development says it plans to meet with existing businesses and people who live nearby to generate a vision for the area before they make any major moves.

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