Hyde Park Village shopping district making comeback - WFLA News Channel 8

Hyde Park Village shopping district making comeback

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Fountain at center of Hyde Park Village Fountain at center of Hyde Park Village
Business owners say the area is improving. Business owners say the area is improving.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Tampa's Hyde Park Village is making a comeback.

The shopping area is surrounded by some of Tampa's highest income neighborhoods, but for the past four years, stores have closed and windows on storefronts have been covered.

Shoppers like Courtney Gilner have noticed.

"It's been empty, pretty much," said Gilner.  "When I first lived here it had a department store, it had a makeup store, it had everything."

Gilner says she's been coming lately just to sit by the scenic fountain.

Recently, five stores have opened in the shopping district.

Andrew Smith is the owner of one of the new stores called High Cotton living.

Smith describes it as a southern lifestyle boutique and adds, having a store like this is something he's always wanted.

"I've wanted to do something like this since I was a little toddler," Smith said.  "Growing up, I was that kid sitting on the golf course with a lemonade stand instead of being out playing."

Now, he works at the store with his mother and father, two retired school teachers.

Smith says his store features southern designers and mostly American-made products.

Victoria Bowa recently opened a store called Navy.

Bowa says it's high end women's shoe boutique that also sells jewelry, handbags and other accessories.

Bowa studied law and passed the bar, but says a legal career was not for her.

She decided now was the right time to open the store.

"It was sort of a life milestone, that kind of nudged me to get going on it," Bowa said.  "I realized I wasn't getting any younger and if it was something I really wanted to do, I should just do it."

She believes having four other stores open at the same time is mutually beneficial.

"I feel that we sort of are all feeding off of each other, so it's helped me a lot, I know people come to my store and I tell them about all of the new stores," said Bowa.

She adds that Hyde Park Village was just the right fit for her kind of business.

"I knew that if I wanted to be in South Tampa, this was the only place I wanted to be, just because I knew a new business needed to rely on foot traffic," Bowa said.

Kara Hill was recently hired at the Don Me Now store.

Hill says she enjoys the atmosphere of the village.

"It's really a great thing because it's such a fun area," said Hill.  "It's so much better than the whole shopping mall experience, it's something new and exciting and all the stores around here are new."

There are still some vacant store fronts at Hyde Park Village.

Some of vacant buildings have openings for large tenants and several of the new store owners say it would be nice to have a major anchor store move in to increase traffic, but for now they say Hyde Park Village appears to be heading in a new direction.

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