Those of you familiar with St. Pete probably probably know about the Tramor, the beautiful (though quite neglected) 1920s Mediterranean Revival, complete with architectural details including a painted blue-sky ceiling, balconies and etched glass.
The downtown building once was a popular cafeteria open to the public. By the time I started working at the St. Petersburg Times, in 2003, the Tramor belonged to the paper, and was used as its cafeteria, open only to the staff. In recent years the cafeteria was shut down, and the Tramor was used simply to house four vending machines.
It bothered me to see such a pretty building being wasted like that, but the official word was that keeping it open wasn't economically viable. There were occasional rumors of selling or leasing the building, but nothing ever came through.
I made it a point to stop into the Tramor every day, on the way into work, to grab a Diet Coke, admire the architecture and imagine the possibilities. I'd wonder why the Times didn't open it up as a community hall, a gathering place to inspire ideas and host discussions. Or turn it into a marketplace, where they could showcase local businesses and local artists.
On Thursday, Oct. 6, I walked up to the Tramor but didn't go in. I was running late and thought I'd first go into work, get settled in, then maybe go back down and grab a Diet Coke and daydream.
That all never happened, because as soon as I walked in I found out I had been laid off.
My daily visits to the Tramor have ended, but the daydreaming continues.
The focus, though, is no longer on the Times. Instead, I now imagine LocalShops1.com one day buying the Tramor and using it as a place to inspire ideas, host discussions, bring together businesses and artists ..
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Ester Venouziou, founder of LocalShops1.com and co-founder
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St. Petersburg Times layoffs