Back then, the State was among the few draws on the block of Central Avenue, a dead stretch of storefronts in a lifeless downtown. But as the block has come alive, the historic theater has decided to evolve, launching a stylish rebranding campaign. The block's boutiques and nightspots played a key role in downtown St. Petersburg's cultural renaissance. The State is one of the last left standing from those lean years — a reflection of how the block's growth has squeezed out shops that once defined its artsy, after-hours vibe. The city has made preserving the character of businesses a priority, but what's happening along the block shows how hard that might be. Since , rising rent has forced several businesses to close or relocate.
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