LARGO, Fla. — Not many people in Largo have seen how the city has grown quite like Adam Gentile.
“I think it’s been changing for the better but it’s been very slow,” Gentile, owner of Largo Feed and Pet Supply, said.
He’s been the owner of Largo Feed for nearly 40 years, spending the last 30 on West Bay Drive.
It’s been an investment that’s paid for itself in the form of interactions that he’s had with loyal customers.
“I just like the customers,” Gentile said. “You know, we have good conversation. I've known them. You know, some people have been coming here ever since I've owned it.”
He’s seen so many changes in this area and he’s witnessing another growth spurt of the surrounding community.
“There's already people wanting to buy buildings,” Gentile said. “There's already one been purchased, the West Coast garage, which is an old institution, you know, gas station at one time someone bought that they're going to build an office building there.”
It’s all part of the city’s Downtown Largo Project, which includes a new city hall, expected to open next year, redeveloping parts of downtown on West Bay and bringing back events to spots like Ulmer Park which is right across the street from Largo Feed.
“They want to use it more, which is fine. I thought it was nice.”
He says overall it’s exciting to see that more things could be coming to this stretch of Largo.
“I just hope it continues to get better and improve. You know, I want to see more businesses,” Gentile said. “Like, it'd be nice to walk out my door to go somewhere to have lunch.”
However, he says his main concern with all this is that he’s frustrated at how long it’s historically taken to see changes there.
He says construction and some beautification choices, like adding more trees, has led to things like less foot traffic for his shop.
“I'm not negative against,” Gentile said, “I'm just negative about the way they do it. That's all.”
He’s optimistic that bringing in new apartment complexes and livening up this area will attract more businesses and continue this growth for the better.
“If you want to draw people to downtown area, you got to have restaurants, shops, people want a bite, you know what I mean?” asked Gentile.
While he says he’s had some objections to the way the city’s handled things over the decades, he’s eager to see Largo thrive, so long as it’s done in an efficient and cost-effective way.
The Horizon West Bay construction, where the new city hall will be by the time construction is done some time in 2024, is also expected to have some retail space along with a new parking garage.