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For Immediate Release
St. Petersburg, FL - July 31, 2020

EDGE District Wins Five Secretary of State Awards

St. Petersburg's EDGE District has been recognized by the Florida Secretary of State for outstanding achievements of the year, statewide, in five categories.

Each year, the Florida Secretary of State recognizes Main Street communities that have excelled in carrying out their revitalization and preservation efforts in historic commercial corridors. This year's awards ceremony was live streamed on July 30, as part of the Florida Main Street Annual Conference. A replay can be viewed on the EDGE District Facebook page.

The EDGE District has been an accredited America Main Street™ and Florida Main Street since 2014. At that time, the district – which runs from 1st Avenue North to 1st Avenue South from MLK to 16th Streets – was blighted, with only a small handful of businesses and many buildings empty and in disrepair. Few viewed it safe enough to walk through after dark.

The EDGE Business District Association, which operates the EDGE District Main Street, named the district "EDGE" as an acronym for "Entertainment, Dining, Galleries and shops, and Etcetera." It then began its work to revitalize the district, focusing on advocacy, community-building, business assistance, promotions and events, a district history project, and a complete district branding and marketing campaign. Today, the EDGE is one of the most popular destinations in the region.

Every year, just over a dozen categories of Outstanding Florida Main Street Awards are recognized. Within each category, the Honor Award goes to the 1st place winner and the Merit Award goes to the runner-up. This year, the Secretary of State recognized the EDGE with five awards, bringing the EDGE's total since 2015 to fourteen. This year's EDGE recipients were:

• Honor Award for Outstanding Florida Main Street Public Improvement Project to the EDGE District Gateway Sculptures. The EDGE District gateway sculptures represent the culmination of a $249,000 public arts project spearheaded by the EDGE District Main Street. The project goal was to install iconic public art gateway markers that would identify the EDGE District, welcome and engage its visitors, and pay homage to its industrial heritage while reflecting its vibrant present and future vision. Funded by the Intown West Community Redevelopment Area's TIF (tax increment funds), the project began in 2018 with a national search, drawing over 100 applications from accomplished sculptors across the country. A committee of EDGE members, local artists, and City representatives then conducted an extensive selection process, ultimately choosing the winning design “On EDGE” by artist James Brenner from Minneapolis, MN. The design includes a total of ten sculptures made of hand-sculpted green jade float glass, weathering Cor-ten steel, stainless steel and lighting. Eight are 4-feet tall with solar lighting, while the remaining two are 8-feet tall with twisting layers of glass and LED lighting. The larger sculptures stand on the bookends of the district’s central corridor, while the smaller sculptures surround the perimeter. Unveiling of the first sculpture was featured in the prestigious 2019 Glass Art Society Conference. The final two sculptures were installed in January 2020.

Honor Award for Outstanding Florida Main Street Sign Project to the Ferg's World of Liquors sign restoration. A giant globe sign had been a staple of St. Petersburg’s Central Avenue for nearly 60 years when it was slated for removal to make way for a new $50 million development. Fortunately, Mark and Sherry Ferguson saved the globe for its new home in the EDGE District. Originally used for the sign of World Furniture on the 100 block of Central Avenue in the 1950s, the globe was relocated to another store, World Liquors, on 16th Street and Central Avenue, where it was incorporated into a 22’ tall sign. From 1961 until the 1970s, the globe revolved and illuminated internally, before falling into disrepair. In 2018 when World Liquors closed, the Fergusons purchased it, wanting to save this iconic sign for the general public. They then went to great expense to have it painstakingly restored, which took nearly a year and a half. In August 2019, the finished sign was installed at their restaurant Ferg’s Sports Bar, at a key EDGE District focal point. It now reads “Ferg’s World Famous,” lights up and revolves once again. The Fergusons also added stairs and platform, so anyone who wished could climb up and take their photos with this wonderful piece of St. Petersburg history.

• Honor Award for Outstanding Florida Main Street New Construction Project to the new St. Pete Police Department Headquarters. The new St. Petersburg Police Department Headquarters represents a 6.3 acre, $78.5 million construction project creating a vibrant new anchor for the EDGE District. Designed by Harvard Jolly, this state-of-the art, high-tech complex incorporates modern design and industrial elements, befitting the EDGE District’s heritage. It includes a main building, parking structure, and central energy plant. Large public art sculptures outside and inside welcome the community, and were chosen by a community committee that included the EDGE District's Executive Director. The main building is three-stories, 170,000 square feet, and houses all SPPD divisions, the data center, and the City’s emergency operations and communications center (which also serves as Pinellas County’s backup 911 center). The complex also includes a new 600-space, four-level parking facility, surface parking, and secured perimeter fencing. Sustainability and resiliency are central. The complex is “certified green” with 1450 solar panels and an energy plant with high-efficiency pumps and cooling towers that serve the main building’s air handling units. The emergency power system serves the critical operations areas and life safety functions. The entire complex was also made to sustain 195 mph winds. Construction was completed late March 2019, and operations moved in April and May 2019.

• Merit Award for Outstanding Florida Main Street Business of the Year to Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More. Big Frog, owned by Sean and Dannette Mulligan, has been in the EDGE District since 2017. They opened their shop with the mission “to serve the local community,” and have embraced that mission wholeheartedly. Their online presence (from website to social media) regularly encourages “support your community and buy local” and often promotes other small businesses more so than their own. They also established an online fundraiser for local causes and small businesses during the first phase of the pandemic. Every year they also donate hundreds of t-shirts and other customized items to other small businesses and local fundraisers. Owner Sean Mulligan has also donates generously of his time to serve on the EDGE Board and committees, volunteers at all EDGE events, sponsors the EDGE District Cleanup Crew, and is a strong ambassador for Main Street out in the community.

• Merit Award for Outstanding Local Florida Main Street Supporter to Debbie Reeser, EBDA Board member and commercial realtor. Debbie Reeser has been active for years in two of St. Petersburg Main Street programs – the EDGE District and Grand Central District – as well as Preserve the 'Burg and St. Petersburg arts organizations. A commercial realtor, Debbie made an intentional decision to help keep St. Pete a “special place to live, play and work.” Since 2018 she has served on the EDGE Board and multiple committees, including Design, Economic Vitality, and Parking Advocacy. She also regularly volunteers at the Main Street's events, business workshops, and quarterly cleanups, and generously shares her real estate expertise to inform the Main Street's work. She is an especially active Main Street ambassador, helping build ties between the EDGE and the greater St. Petersburg community.

In response to the awards, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman stated, "Congratulations to St. Petersburg's EDGE District for being recognized by the Florida Secretary of State. The preservation and revitalization work done by Barbara [Voglewede, EDGE Executive Director] and everyone involved in the EDGE District is why this area is now one of St. Pete's best. In particular, I want to congratulate the St. Petersburg Police Department on their own recognition. My thanks to the Florida Secretary of State for honoring the EDGE District and the Sunshine City.”

The mission of the downtown historic EDGE District Main Street is to plan, promote, and advocate to sustain an eclectic, vibrant EDGE District community while preserving its unique character. For more information, please visit edgedistrict.org. For more information on the Florida Main Street program, please visit floridamainstreet.com.