ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Community members in the southernmost section of St. Petersburg are rallying together to breathe new life into an old shopping center that has sat practically vacant for years.

  • Community members trying to breathe new life into Skyway Shopping Plaza
  • Members held food truck rally to attract new businesses to plaza
  • Shopping center has sat practically vacant for years

In 2013, the Sweetbay Supermarket closed its doors in the Skyway Plaza on 62nd Avenue South, leaving only a couple of small stores and a giant empty building.

On Saturday, hundreds came together for a food truck rally with the hopes of attracting new businesses to the area.

"It's empty, it's empty, there's nobody here, you can see when you have an event people will come out and will support the businesses," Tom Lally, with the Greater Pinellas Point Civic Association said.

Ken Conklin, President of the Lakewood Terrace Neighborhood Association knows the area has potential.

"Back in the 80's when I was 14, I worked at a pet store down the way, there was a bicycle shop, we had Walgreens, and a true value down there," Conklin said.

Conklin said it's been a big problem attracting new businesses in recent years. Neighborhood leaders said the owners of the old grocery store are still renting the building through 2020.

"We're trying to get community involvement to help more businesses down here. Small restaurants, jobs, maybe an entrepreneurial center to help small business," Lally said.

They hope the massive turnout to the food truck rally will prove a point and that bringing in new businesses will create jobs and enhance the entire area.

"If you bring in something to this shopping center, bring a face lift to it, the rest of the neighborhood will do the same," Conklin said.