The Bealls Videos

As part of the 100th anniversary package of Bealls, I wanted to show the different sides of the company. And get the chairman on camera.

I did everything in these videos—interviews, filming, editing, voiceover—and am proud to get these done in short order. My favorite has to be talking to designer Leoma Lovegrove and how Bealls has changed the already successful artist’s life.


Long Bar Pointe Watchdog Reporting

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2014 Second-place Lucy Morgan Award for InDepth Reporting, Class B, Florida Press Club, “Long Bar Pointe” series

In May 2013, I was assigned to take a look at a massive coastal development being proposed. It initially was a county government story but the editors thought I should take a look at it because it involved commercial, retail and residential construction.

It wasn’t just a rezoning request anymore. The initial story, which was out before any major competing outlet had anything, turned out to be quite the journey during that summer.

I learned a lot about what Floridians valued on that stretch of Sarasota Bay. The coastline is not built up with major waterfront high rises on this stretch. For as much as it can be, folks call this a piece of Old Florida. And it included neighboring Cortez Key, which is Florida’s oldest continuing working fishing village. I learned much more about seagrass and what it does than I ever thought I would. (And its differentiation from seaweed.)

On the flip side, you have a very powerful co-developer with connections to the governor. That developer, Carlos Beruff, formally announced on Feb. 29, 2016, that he is running for the U.S. Senate.

Florida is also a state where private property rights are held in high regard, and they had a special case to make because they had rights that extended into the water. The development team wanted to offer something that cannot be found in Manatee and Sarasota counties. They wanted to have a one-of-a-kind project with a promise of jobs, tourism, meeting space, and services. The drawings were beautiful, it looked like an amazing development, but was it compatible? Could they even get the permits to do things like dredge a canal and make an inland marina or boat basin—depending whose term you use?

All of this came to a head to a public hearing on Aug. 6, 2013. The hearing ended in the early hours of Aug. 7, 2013. More than 1,000 people turned out to give their thoughts–both sides. It was so big, the county had to book the convention center to hold the meeting. By that time, all of your local outlets covered the issue.

The development is now in the court system as the developers lost a court case against Manatee County and is now appealing the decision. Long Bar Pointe, as the development project, is now called Aqua.

Here is a rundown of the links to the coverage:

 Read more from these stories below:

Continue reading Long Bar Pointe Watchdog Reporting

Mall at University Town Center Special Section

1636318-175The Mall at University Town Center in Sarasota County, Fla., may very well be the final regionally enclosed shopping mall built in the U.S. We didn’t know it at the time in 2014, but the retail landscape shifted quite a bit since the opening.

It at least was the first of its kind built from the ground-up in the country since 2008, maybe even 2006 depending on your definition.

The co-developer, Taubman Centers, decided to yank a mall project in Miami and instead do more of an urban center. Other mall developers aren’t exactly ready to build something like this either, instead the premium outlet industry is being favored, where you have open-air shops.

We went all-out covering this. This mall was supposed to be built 10 years prior, in 2005, but the Great Recession put that on hold.

A special page devoted to Mall at UTC coverage was created on the Bradenton Herald’s website. Additionally, a special section was published that I helped plan. That included teaming with our graphic designer to use the mall layout that I obtained from open records and match up with all the permits I identified at the time to show shoppers were all the stores would be. (The paper’s servers have moved, so right now you’re left with the JPEGS on this post and the Internet Archive version.)

Here is the main story from the special section, which covers the history of the mall’s development. I co-authored this with fellow business reporter Matt Johnson, who helped with the architecture reporting.

In Mall at University Town Center, dinosaur fossil walls and sophisticated skylight

Oct. 5, 2014

Bealls Turns 100

Bealls Turns 100: Bradenton’s retailer celebrates centennial

Published: March 1, 2015 | Bradenton Herald

Bealls is the venerable, family-owned Florida department store that’s based in Bradenton.

I wrote a series of stories that covered the different aspects of the company’s operations—department stores, outlets, failed experiments, new concept Bunulu and more. I also developed story ideas for colleagues to complete to enhance our coverage—philanthropic endeavors, involvement with spring training baseball and its advertising studio.

The main piece was turned into a multimedia package using a combination of archival photos, a gallery of ads through the years, video, text and fresh photography. The online editor assembled the pieces together for the newsroom’s first attempt at using Sinclair for vivid display.

This project was like a gift from me to the community that I covered and the newsroom because the package published after I left the paper.

Here is the text of the story, as you never know when CMS and servers change at newspapers.

Bealls Turns 100: Bradenton’s retailer celebrates centennial
by Charles Schelle
Published March 1, 2015

BRADENTON — Through the world wars, boom times and reinvented retail, Bradenton’s Bealls has thrived for 100 years.

“It’s no easy feat for any business to celebrate 100 years, especially in an industry where change is the only thing that is guaranteed.”

– Matthew Shay
President and CEO of the National Retail Federation

On April 17, 1915, a 22-year-old R.M. Beall opened a dry goods store in downtown Bradenton, steps from an old wooden dock that extended from 12th Street to the Manatee River. What began as the Dollar Limit has turned into one of the longest-running family-owned and -operated department stores in America. Only a handful of family-run department stores are still around — like the 156-year-old Weaver’s in Kansas — but none match the size and success of Bealls. Continue reading Bealls Turns 100