As if he hasn’t done enough already to preserve the west side of Tampa’s Main Street, David Mueller has begun a project to recreate the building that housed a grocery store. It was Moffitt’s Market when it closed on May 1, 1999. The building was attached to the north and west sides of La Luna Café.
Vince Jantz of Jantz Construction is overseeing the project. Using a bucket crane owned by Dalke Construction of Hillsboro, operator Gail Makovec of rural Lincolnville spent several days last week demolishing the old building and clearing the debris.
Jantz immediately began preparations for construction of a new building. He said it will not be as long as the original store but would be a wood-frame building with a retained common brick wall on the south side that will serve as the south interior wall of the structure.
Mueller said he wants it to look as much as possible like the original store. The bricks from the old building were retained. They will be cleaned and used to restore the original brick front along with an overhead steel beam and two steel posts.
How the building will be used is yet to be determined.
Mueller owns the entire west side of Main Street between Third and Fourth streets. He recently preserved a set of connected brick storefronts by rebuilding the roof and restoring the interiors. These buildings now house Tampa Trail Stop Store, a beauty shop, a fitness center, and a community meeting room.
Mueller also is redoing the exterior of the former stucco-covered gas “filling” station at the north end of the block. The station was built in 1926 and was in business until the late 1950s.
Mueller is a lifetime resident of the Tampa community. He is a farmer and runs a cowherd, so why the interest in Tampa?
“I saw the gaps on Main Street and saw other buildings falling in,” he said. “I asked myself what would that leave, and I couldn’t let that happen.”
He said the biggest payback came one recent Wednesday evening as he drove into town. People were shopping at the grocery store, the beauty shop was busy, some were working out at the fitness center, and a group was meeting in the community building.
“The street was full of cars,” he said.
The only building left untouched by Mueller is the old Moffitt Crandall American Legion building. The Legion is still active but meets in the new community room.
“More projects are coming,” Mueller promised.
He hopes that what he is doing will keep people in the community and draw others in.
“I know of five families who buy all their food at the grocery store, and another family has moved into town,” he said. “It seems to be working.”