Six years ago, when Creative Loafing published its first issue dedicated to Ybor, it was in part a way of reacquainting ourselves with our new/old home. CL’s roots are in Ybor. For most of the paper’s 28 years of existence, save for its earliest days somewhere out near the airport, and a stretch from 2004-2009 in a former fruit warehouse north of Kennedy, CL has been based in Ybor City — first in what are now the offices of The Radiant Group, and since 2010 across 9th Avenue in Ybor Square, one floor above those never-say-die pasta pioneers at Spaghetti Warehouse.
In just six years, so much has changed in the neighborhood. Trace the ever-mutating restaurant landscape described in Meaghan Habuda’s story, or the spate of residential developments reported by Kate Bradshaw — both with the welcome news that daytime Ybor is beginning to rival nocturnal Ybor in its appeal. (Those of us who work in the district already know its charms by day, and now lots more businesses — in particular, architects and designers, reports Mitzi Gordon — are catching on.) Recent arrivals like Lori Rosso, the new head of the Ybor Chamber of Commerce, are bringing fresh energy into the mix, reports Cathy Salustri, but they’re also championing the area’s historic and cultural cred.
The cigars, the roosters, the bricks, the legacy of artists like Theo Wujcik, the cultural contributions of immigrants from Spain, from Cuba, from Italy (remembered fondly by Gary Mormino in his essay for this issue) — these are what make Ybor Ybor. Change will occur, but it’s up to us to preserve what makes the neighborhood unique. Because that, one hopes, is what’s making all these potential new Yborians want to move here in the first place.