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Justine Griffin, Times Staff Writer

Justine Griffin

Justine Griffin covers retail business and tourism for the Tampa Bay Times. She is a native Floridian who spent most of her childhood in Pasco County. Prior to coming to the Times in 2015, she worked for the St. Augustine Record, the Sun Sentinel and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, where she gained national attention for her retail coverage and for a longform article she wrote about her experience as an egg donor. Justine is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she studied journalism. She's an equestrian. Her horse is named Belinda.

Phone: (727) 893-8467

Email: jgriffin@tampabay.com

Twitter: @SunBizGriffin

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  1. Southwest Airlines to offer flights from Tampa to San Diego

    Airlines

    TAMPA — Southwest Airlines will offer daily nonstop service from Tampa International Airport to San Diego International Airport beginning Jan. 8, 2018.

    San Diego has been a route that Tampa airport officials have been vying to add to the market for some time. Late last year airport officials listed San Diego as one of top domestic markets they planned to target for new service. The new San Diego flight comes just two months after Tampa airport officials announced the return of service to Salt Lake City, another coveted route, on Delta. ...

    Southwest Airlines is planning to launch service from Tampa to San Diego.
[Times file photo]
  2. CEO of Winn-Dixie's parent company steps down

    Retail

    Ian McLeod has resigned as president and CEO of Southeastern Grocers, the Jacksonville-based parent company of Winn-Dixie grocery stores.

    McLeod joined the company in late 2015. A Scotland native, McLeod came to Southeastern Grocers with a background in managing international grocery chains in Australia and England. He vowed to turn the tired Winn-Dixie chain around after it had been acquired by Bi-Lo Holdings and had bought out its competitor, Sweetbay Supermarkets, a few years prior to his arrival. ...

    Ian McLeod, is stepping down as the CEO of the parent company of Winn-Dixie. [Photo courtesy of Southeastern Grocers]
  3. Port Tampa Bay secures more funding for Big Bend Channel project

    Business

    TAMPA — Port Tampa Bay is moving forward with plans to widen and deepen the Big Bend Channel after securing instrumental state and federal funding for the project.

    The port was awarded a $5.7 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation, which will be used toward the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel. The port's board of commissioners unanimously approved the allocation at a board meeting on Tuesday. ...

    Paul Anderson, CEO and president of Port Tampa Bay, called a major dredging project moving ahead "the largest and most unique project I've ever had the opportunity to work on" in 35 years in the industry.
[Times file photo}
  4. Port Tampa Bay approves demolition of part of Channelside Bay Plaza

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Port Tampa Bay's board of directors unanimously approved a plan to demolish part of Channelside Bay Plaza to make room for new restaurants, retailers and waterfront views.

    Port officials voted in favor of amending Strategic Property Partners' ground lease on the 230,532-square-foot retail plaza adjacent to the port at a meeting Tuesday morning.

    This amendment allows SPP — the real estate firm owned by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment — to demolish the southwest portion of the retail center to create better views of the waterfront and enhance the visibility of Bay Plaza....

    A portion of the Channelside Bay Plaza is set for demolition as part of a broader redevelopment plan. 
[Times map courtesy of Port Tampa Bay]
  5. Strategic Property Partners seeks to demolish part of Channelside Bay Plaza

    News

    TAMPA — A section of Channelside Bay Plaza could be razed sooner rather than later to make way for future renovations and give visitors a better view of the city's waterfront.

    Port Tampa Bay officials will vote to amend Strategic Property Partners' ground lease on the 230,532-square-foot retail plaza adjacent to the port at a meeting Tuesday morning. This amendment would allow SPP, the real estate firm owned by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment, to demolish the southwest portion of the retail center to create better views of the waterfront and enhance the visibility of Bay Plaza, according to port documents. ...

    Strategic Property Partners unveiled plans to redevelop Channelside Bay Plaza to Port Tampa Bay in September. [Photos provided by SPP]
  6. Tampa's Joe Redner wants to grow his own cannabis plants, says suit

    Business

    Count Joe Redner, Tampa's outspoken strip club entrepreneur and a lung cancer patient, among the first to challenge the state's medical marijuana laws in court.

    Less than two weeks after lawmakers put in place new laws governing growing, manufacturing and selling medical marijuana, Redner's lawsuit claims the state is not following the will of the public, which voted overwhelmingly last year to legalize it by passing a constitutional amendment....

    Joe Redner is suing the Florida Department of Health so that he can grow his own marijuana plants. He is fighting stage-4 lung cancer. [RICHARD DANIELSON  |   Times]
  7. What you need to know about Trump's new Cuba travel policy: Stick to your itinerary

    News

    Want to go to Cuba? You still can.

    Even though it's illegal under U.S. law to travel to Cuba for tourism, restrictions eased under the Obama administration made it much easier for American tourists to book a flight or cruise to Cuba for the first time in many years.

    On Friday, President Trump took steps to make it harder again. The federal government will limit American business with Cuba's military, which operates most of the tourism and hospitality industries....

    Cruise ships like Carnival Fathom's Adonia will see little impact from new Cuba travel restrictions because passengers sleep on board and take part in organized tours. [Associated Press]
  8. HSN executives seek digital solution to TV, shopping challenges

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — Before there was Amazon and phone apps that promise one-hour delivery, there was the Home Shopping Network.

    Similar to its competitor QVC, the company now known as HSN was an innovator in reaching new audiences during live broadcasts on its cable television channel and even online. Over most of the last 11 years, the company flourished under the leadership of Mindy Grossman, a veteran retail executive who polished the St. Petersburg-based company's image and added to its line of high profile partnerships with celebrities and fashion brands. ...

    HSN President Bill Brand
[LARA CERRI   |   Times]

  9. The mall isn't dead. It's alive and well in Tampa's Hyde Park Village

    Retail

    TAMPA — With shops like Restoration Hardware, Williams-Sonoma and a Jacobsons department store, Hyde Park Village used to be the mainstay of luxury shopping in Tampa.

    Its charming open-air streets and slew of high end restaurants and boutiques made it the shopping destination in the entire Tampa Bay region. But when International Plaza opened in 2001, it took many of Hyde Park's long-standing tenants with it. The village struggled for years as new owners came and went without investing much in it. ...

    Pictured is the exterior of Goody Goody, located in Hyde Park Village on West Swann Avenue in Tampa. In an age where many chain retailers and traditional shopping malls are struggling to stay open, Hyde Park Village is described by analysts and brokers today as a bright spot in the industry.
[ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]

  10. Local entrepreneurs seek entry points into Florida's growing cannabis industry

    Business

    For nearly all of the entrepreneurs Pete Sessa meets, the stories start out the same.

    It's begins with a family member, a child or a friend. Sometimes it's a neighbor or a teacher. But they all know someone who suffered through a debilitating disease. Then they see first hand how cannabis could have helped. That's what draws them into Florida's burgeoning medical marijuana industry.

    As chief operating officer of the Florida Cannabis Coalition based in Tampa, Sessa aims to connect entrepreneurs with advocates and other business owners in the medical marijuana industry in Florida. The group hosts business networking and educational events across the state and attend regional and national conferences regularly. Businesses can join the coalition's 600-member directory or sign up for consulting, business development and co-working services through its sister company, Common Bond Collaborative....

    CR World's CDB-rich hemp-infused coconut oil. Colette Florido started her own cannabis oil company, CR World,  in St. Petersburg after caring for her father who has dementia. 
[CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  11. Park Tower building in downtown Tampa to be upgraded

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Park Tower in downtown Tampa is about to get some serious upgrades.

    Formerly known as the Lykes Building at 400 N. Tampa St., the 36-story building will undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation which is expected to be completed by early 2018, according to a press release.

    In November, developers City Office, Feldman Equities and Tower Realty Partners purchased Park Tower through a joint venture partnership for $79.75 million. These companies have partnered together previously to renovate other office buildings in the Florida market, including in downtown St. Petersburg....

    Park Tower, an office building located at 400 N. Tampa St. in downtown Tampa, is getting a multi-million upgrade this year. [Photo courtesy of Park Tower]
  12. Downtown St. Petersburg's tallest tower, Priatek Plaza, has a new owner

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The tallest office building in Pinellas County has a new owner.

    Priatek Plaza, which was renamed from One Progress Plaza in Sept. 2015, was sold to Third Lake Capital, the locally-based investment firm of the Wanek family behind the Ashley Furniture brand.

    The sales price was not disclosed and a local record of the sale had not yet been posted as of late Monday. Rumors of the building being for sale have been circulating among brokers in the area for months....

    Priatek acquired naming rights to Pinellas County's tallest building in 2015. The building recently sold to Third Lake Capital. This is the former Bank of America building at 200 Central Ave. [LARA CERRI  |   Times Staff]
  13. Frontier Airlines refused to allow blind man and granddaughter on plane at Tampa airport

    Airlines

    TAMPA — When Kliphton Miller left his home in Tarpon Springs before the sun came up on May 23 for a 7:15 a.m. flight to Las Vegas, he didn't realize how quick the trip would be. Airline employees refused to let him board the plane.

    Miller, 44, who is legally blind, was traveling with his 18-month-old granddaughter to Las Vegas, where her parents live, after an extended visit in Florida. But Frontier Airlines employees at Tampa International Airport refused to allow him to board the plane, even though he had paid for the flight. ...

    Kliphton Miller, 44, stands with his nine-year-old daughter Kliphrecce Miller, right, outside of their apartment in Tarpon Springs. Kliphton was not allowed to board a Frontier Airlines flight on May 23 while escorting his 18-month-old granddaughter Kassidy Reynolds on a flight to Las Vegas out of Tampa International Airport because employees said his disability (being blind) was a liability. 
[DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  14. Dough wars: Tampa's Mini Doughnut Factory sues Mini Donut Mill over name

    Retail

    TAMPA — It appears that South Tampa's cult favorite doughnut shop, the Mini Doughnut Factory, may be victorious after challenging a new local competitor over its similar name.

    A recent complaint filed in Hillsborough County circuit court details a dispute between the owners of the Mini Doughnut Factory and newcomer Mini Donut Mill, which opened recently less than two miles away from one another. ...

    Patrick and Zuzera Ruddell, owners of the Mini Doughnut Factory, are shown earlier this year after earning best doughnuts and best new business awards from Creative Loafing. The Mini Doughnut Factory is now suing a new local competitor over its similar name.
[File photo courtesy of the Mini Doughnut Factory]
  15. Memorial Day sales not enough to draw shoppers to Tampa Bay malls

    Retail

    TAMPA — Memorial Day sales at Tampa Bay area malls were not enough to compete with the beach and backyard barbecues this holiday weekend.

    Even the busiest malls in Tampa, like Westshore Plaza and International Plaza, were mostly quiet on Memorial Day, which historically has been a boon for retailers who offer some serious seasonal sales over the long weekend.

    "This is the busiest we've been all day," a store clerk at the Francesca's boutique in Westshore Plaza told me early Monday afternoon, when it was just me, her and one other customer in the store at the time. "I guess everyone is out at the beach."...

    Memorial Day sales weren't enough to draw shoppers to Tampa Bay area malls over the long weekend. 
[JUSTINE GRIFFIN | Times]