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Charlie Frago, Times Staff Writer

Charlie Frago

Charlie Frago covers St. Petersburg for the Tampa Bay Times. Previously, Frago covered Clearwater for the newspaper. He has also worked for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina and the City News Bureau of Chicago. In 2011-12, Frago was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He joined the Times in May 2013.

Phone: (727) 893-8459

E-mail: cfrago@tampabay.com

Twitter: @CharlieFrago

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  1. Tangerine Plaza sold at auction, setting stage for St. Petersburg to take control of shopping center

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city is one step closer to taking over ownership of Tangerine Plaza, the Midtown commercial development that has seen two grocery stores fail in the last three years.

    Summit Bridge, a creditor of developer Larry Newsome, on Wednesday bought his leaseholding rights to the plaza for what is believed to be about $2 million at a foreclosure auction, according to mayor's spokesman Ben Kirby. The plaza sits on city-owned land at 22nd Street S and 18th Avenue S....

    The Walmart Neighborhood Market in Midtown's Tangerine Plaza closed Monday in April. On Wednesday, a creditor of the developer bought the leaseholding rights to the plaza for what is believed to be about $2 million. It's the first step of a complicated deal that should see St. Petersburg eventually take control of the troubled plaza. [LAVENDRICK SMITH  |  Times]
  2. Kriseman nets council endorsements

    Blog

    Mayor Rick Kriseman has raised $260,000 for his reelection and doesn't yet have a major challenger.

    On Wednesday, the good news continued with four City Council members endorsing the mayor.

    Charlie Gerdes, Amy Foster, Darden Rice and Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, all Democrats, threw their support behind their Democratic mayor for the upcoming non-partisan race.

    Foster and Rice are up for reelection this year. Rice, the council chairwoman, has already announced her intention to run again. Foster hasn't made it official, but is widely expected to run again....

    Mayor Rick Kriseman has no major challenger yet in his reelection campaign
  3. Inspired by women's march, presidential election, political novice enters St. Pete City Council race

    Blog

    John Johnson is a relative newcomer to St. Petersburg, arriving about four years ago from Brooklyn.

    But, inspired by recent national political events, the 46-year-old Old Northeast resident decided to enter a crowded field for the District 6 City Council seat being vacated by term-limited Karl Nurse.

    January's women's march, which drew more than 20,000 people to downtown's waterfront and millions worldwide, and November's presidential election persuaded Johnson to get involved politically....

    John Johnson has filed paperwork to run for District 6
  4. Amid sewage crisis, St. Petersburg department must also deal with racial tension

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city agency at the center of last year's sewage crisis is the Water Resources Department. While the city spewed hundreds of millions of gallons of waste into neighborhoods and waterways, the director was fired and the department was beset with questions about accountability, transparency and even competence.

    But in the midst of that emergency, the department faced another crisis: racial tension....

    The Albert Whitted waterfront wastewater facility, which was closed in 2015, a decision that ended up exacerbating last year's sewage crisis in St. Petersburg. While the city was also dealing with that emergency, it faced another crisis: a reorganization that forced the departure of a high-ranking black official roiled the department's black employees.[DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. Lucky 13th Grand Prix race makes a smooth return to St. Petersburg

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Now in its 13th year, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has settled into a comfortable groove.

    The spinouts of earlier years have quieted. Downtown residents' don't seem to have the same angst over the roar of engines and the noise of spectators pouring into the waterfront. Neighboring businesses are no longer flummoxed by the three-day race's schedule. And the tiff between a City Council member and the race managers is ancient history....

     Wilma Vos, 87, of Clearwater Beach rides behind retired racing legend Mario Andretti in the IndyCar two-seater ride at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg track during Thursday’s Indy Racing Experience.
  6. St. Petersburg City Council approves Pride support

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city has formalized a multiyear agreement with St. Pete Pride regarding city financial support for the state's largest Pride event.

    In January, Mayor Rick Kriseman threatened to withhold city money for the June parade, which drew about 220,000 people last year, after Pride organizers announced plans to move the parade to a location along downtown's waterfront.

    A compromise was reached where the parade will relocate downtown, but other festivities during the June 23-25 weekend will stay in the Grand Central neighborhood. ...

    The Pride riders roll down Central ave. during the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg in 2016.
  7. TV crew taping this week for feature on Wheeler-Bowman

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Lisa Wheeler-Bowman scoured some of the toughest spots in St. Petersburg to find her son's killer.

    It eventually paid off when the killer was brought to justice. Now, recently departed Today show host Tamron Hall will tell America about Wheeler-Bowman's quest to solve her son Cabretti's 2008 murder.

    Wheeler-Bowman, 48, who was elected to the City Council in 2015, flew to Manhattan recently with her son, Chris, for the interviews for Hall's show Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall on Investigation Discovery. ...

    [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  8. St. Petersburg's middle-class housing dilemma may have an answer: skinny homes

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — For years, downtown boosters, the chamber of commerce and City Hall have complained about the shortage of middle-class family housing in the city.

    They said there just aren't enough affordable three-bedroom, two-bath options.

    So maybe it's time, city planners believe, to slim down.

    Enter "skinny homes." It's a new name for an old concept found in many other cities like Chicago, Charleston, New Orleans and Nashville. Think of a two-story gussied-up shotgun house....

    Two of the “skinny” homes fit on one lot, with alley access in the back for off-street parking.
  9. St. Pete council member's story goes national

    Blog

    Lisa Wheeler-Bowman scoured some of the toughest spots in St. Petersburg to find her son's killer.

    It eventually paid off when the killer was brought to justice. Now, recently-departed Today show host, Tamron Hall will tell America about Wheeler-Bowman's quest to solve her son Cabretti's 2008 murder....

    St. Petersburg Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman
  10. St. Petersburg spending $16 million to fortify the Northwest sewage plant before rainy season starts

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — As the city grapples with the aftermath of two consecutive summers of massive sewage overflows, much of the attention has been focused on whether it should reopen the shuttered Albert Whitted waste-water treatment facility.

    City staff, council members and activists have also spent hours vetting the massive expansion under way at the Southwest sewage plant.

    But what about the Northwest plant?...

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system in September 2016. The city is planning to spend $16 million to upgrade the Northwest sewage plant, which released 58 million gallons of dirty water during the crisis. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  11. Against City Council's wishes, company sued over Flint water crisis helping fix St. Petersburg's sewage woes

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — A company embroiled in the Flint water crisis in Michigan is now helping to solve St. Petersburg's sewage woes.

    But that troubles some City Council members, who voted to remove the company from being considered for another contract because of its link to the Flint situation.

    Last week a City Council committee voted unanimously to remove Veolia ES Technical Solutions from the running for a contract to evaluate the management of the city's Water Resources Department, the division at the heart of the sewage crisis....

    Old Northeast residents (left to right) Marci Emerson, Arden Katcha, 8, and Arden's mother, Martha Collins, protest the city's handling of its sewage problems in 2016. The St. Petersburg City Council is not happy that a company tied to the Flint water crisis in Michigan, Veolia ES Technical Solutions, has been hired to work on St. Petersburg's sewage woes. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  12. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman wants to spend $225,000 on 'influencers' to promote city (but not himself)

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman wants to spend big bucks to attract Twitter titans, influential Instagramers and Snapchat stars to the Sunshine City.

    And, in an election year for the mayor, his administration hopes that these "influencers" will write, tweet and post good things about the city's arts, culture and nightlife.

    The "influencers" campaign is part of a $225,000 request to spread the "great things" going on in St. Petersburg to their respective audiences. Another chunk of money would be used to pump up interest in the city's entrepreneurial community. The city would partner with Spark Branding House, a Tampa firm, to build the campaign....

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman wants to spend $225,000 to hire “influencers” to promote the Sunshine City through their various audiences, whether it be on Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat. The City Council tabled the request Thursday. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  13. Tampa Bay Rowdies get their May 2 vote to expand Al Lang Stadium in MLS bid

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rowdies bid to make the jump to Major League Soccer took a big step forward Thursday when the City Council unanimously approved a citywide vote on the team’s plans to expand their home field to MLS standards.

    The May 2 vote means that residents can weigh in on whether the city could negotiate up to a 25-year lease with Rowdies’ owner Bill Edwards for historic Al Lang Stadium. The Rowdies plan to expand the downtown stadium to 18,000 seats....

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday approved a May 2 referendum that would allow voters to decide whether to let the Tampa Bay Rowdies expand historic Al Lang Stadium to 18,000 seats. This artist's rendering shows what the entryway for an expanded and upgraded Al Lang Stadium could look like. The Rowdies' goal is to position the franchise to make the jump to Major League Soccer in the coming years. [Courtesy of Tampa Bay Rowdies]
  14. Ferry ridership up after ticket prices slashed

    Blog

    After a bumpy start, the CrossBay Ferry linking the downtowns of St. Petersburg and Tampa had a good month of February, helped by slashing weekday ticket prices in half.

    A record 6,070 tickets were sold last month, a 57 percent increase from January. Ferry operators credit cutting the weekday one-way fare from $10 to $5 and also cutting by half a value package. 

    In January, the ferry wasn't operating during the College Football Championship weekend or during Gasparilla because of a lack of docking space. ...

    The Cross Bay Ferry docked in the Seddon Channel near the Tampa Convention Center on Thursday, February 9, 2017.
  15. Uhuru Solidarity leader says St. Pete should pay reparations to its black residents

    Blog

    A second candidate with ties to the Uhurn movement has emerged for the upcoming city elections.

    Jesse Nevel’s slogan for his mayoral run?  “Unity through reparations.”

    Nevel, 27, a Miami native who has lived in the city since he was 18, said he decided to make his initial foray into politics fight for justice for the city’s black residents.

    “I decided to run because the old guard is on its way out and we want to see economic development for black communities and this city that is something that will uplift the entire community,” said Nevel, who works as a caregiver to a disabled person....

    Jesse Nevel