Six new businesses have set up shop in The Deuces Live Historic Main Street District in south St. Petersburg.
They are among a growing number of companies that are opening in the historic Black community, which has been the focus of both public and private economic development initiatives.
The new businesses are located in the Dr. Gilbert H. Leggett Building at 2154 9th Ave. South, a property renovated by community developers Elihu and Carolyn Brayboy.
“It’s been our mission to build up the 22nd Street corridor and provide affordable commercial spaces so entrepreneurs can look at this as a strong marketplace,” Elihu Brayboy said in a video played during the business reveal, a hybrid live and virtual event with speakers in person and on video.
“As a city that prides itself on our small business community and entrepreneurs, it’s always a good day when we get to welcome more entrepreneurs, especially more food and more art, into our community. And it’s an even better day when we are doing this south of Central, just off this very special and historic corridor in our city,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said.
“We have come a long way and there’s been stops and starts here, but we know we’re headed in the right direction. Even now during a global pandemic we’re seeing what’s possible here in St. Petersburg and especially in south St. Pete.”
The Brayboys credited Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, with helping them get access to capital from the Florida Community Loan Fund for the restoration at the Leggett building and for an adjacent property, the Bubba Newkirk Building.
“It’s an exciting time to continue to build small businesses in the Deuces, do what’s right for our community and have a better future for us all,” Crist said.
They also received $40,000 from the South St. Petersburg CRA program.
City Council member Gina Driscoll said the project was an example of what happens when local people work together and create things by the community and for the community. “The revitalization is turning into realization,” said City Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman in a video played during the event.
Nikki Capehart, St. Petersburg director of urban affairs, said the Brayboys’ investment has allowed people to see the Deuces in a different light.
“So many of us who grew up in this community as young people walking this corridor now have the ability to be so much more proud of what these businesses are going to be able to achieve because of your good stewardship of your investments over the years. We know there’s been investments by the city but it’s nothing like having a capital stack … You are Black developers in this community, doing what a lot of people have not done,” she said.
Owners of the new businesses were introduced in a video. They are:
• Kendrick Scott, co-owner, Heavy’s Food Truck & Heavy’s Take-out
• Kenyatta Rucker, Kenyatta Rucker Bail Bond
• Jamekka Harris, owner, Meme’s Beauty Supply
• Jessica Howell and Tiffany Simpson, co-owners, Design Savvy Salon II
• Deosha Dandy, owner, Beauty Expressions
• Ms EJ, owner, EJ’s Step and Style Unisex Salon
They joined about a dozen other recent business entrants in the Deuces Live district.