Ybor City, originally the home of Tampa's cigar production industry, has become a popular retail/entertainment hub in Southwest Florida, with Centro Ybor being the heart of the complex. Several structures in the area are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, including the Centro Español building, which is at the center of the 240,000-sq.-ft., open-air retail complex. Built in 1921, it features floor-to-ceiling arched windows and wrought-iron balconies. The building was meticulously renovated to house a live-performance theater, restaurants and small retail shops. Numerous historical items found in the building were reused or relocated. Many of the historical, architectural elements were duplicated to keep the building looking as original as possible.
The old theater components presented some of the most challenging renovations, including:
- Box seats - Dismantled, stripped, reworked and reassembled in place.
- Stage floor - Structurally strengthened and shored.
- Audience seating area - Demolished and reconstructed.
- Wood-plank ballroom floor - Stripped, sanded and re-finished.
- Pressed-tin ceiling panels - Reinstalled after stripping and repainting. Some new panels were fabricated to match existing ones.
- Grand stairways - Reworked and added additional support to the landing.
- Marble stair treads - Polished and reinstalled.
- Handrails – Wood was re-finished, and the original wrought iron railings and posts were stripped and re-painted.
- Arched, wood window frames - Removed, abated the lead paint, restored the wood and then reinstalled with new glass and fresh paint.
The project also included new construction of the Muvico Centro Ybor 20 Theater and two pedestrian sky bridges.