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Alvin’s Island plans include new restaurant

The souvenir shop will close to facilitate a series of renovations designed to improve the St. Armands Circle property.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. February 8, 2018
Alvin's Island will install a new facade if the city approved planned renovations.
Alvin's Island will install a new facade if the city approved planned renovations.
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One of St. Armands Circle’s most prominent stores is set to get a makeover later this year.

On Jan. 24, the owners of Alvin’s Island submitted an application to renovate the properties at 462 John Ringling Blvd. and 440 St. Armands Circle. The plans include a slight expansion of the property and the addition of a restaurant on the second floor, above the existing island souvenir shop.

If approved, planning consultant Bruce Franklin said the renovations would require the store to close for a few months, likely in the summer. The buildings date back to the 1950s, and the owners wanted to thoroughly improve the existing structure.

“It’s an opportunity to basically modernize that building,” Franklin said. “Nobody likes the awning that’s up on the front, and we’re going to be replacing that with a more contemporary facade storefont.”

St. Armands stakeholders have expressed a desire for property owners around the Circle to enhance their storefronts, hoping to create a better image for the shopping district. In a 2014 visit, retail consultant Robert Gibbs singled out the buildings around the Circle as a major weakness of the area.

“The storefronts that are in St. Armands Circle are generally about 25 to 30 years out of date,” Gibbs said. “And that’s being nice.”

The proposal would remove 1,000 square feet from the first floor and add 2,400 square feet to the second floor to create a new restaurant area. The plans also call for the addition of four parking spaces on the first floor.

Franklin said a restaurant tenant has not yet been determined. The planners settled on a restaurant space because it wanted to maximize a valuable piece of real estate on St. Armands, but didn’t believe an expansion of the existing Alvin’s Island store would be the best fit.

“To be using it for retail in the second floor didn’t make any sense,” Franklin said. “The question was, ‘What else would you do with it?’ ”

The proposed renovations require site plan approval from the Planning Board and City Commission. Franklin said he hopes Alvin’s Island can gain the necessary approvals and begin construction by May or June.

“It’s a real enhancement for St. Armands and maintaining the retail-restaurant ambiance out there,” Franklin said.


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