KEY LARGO — Key Largo is home to the Yellow Bait House, the Pink Junktique and the Pink Plaza, each of which is painted to be color coordinated with its name.
So when tenants last week noticed two different yellow swatches on the side of the Pink Plaza building at mile marker 103.4, bayside, they started to worry that their businesses might no longer be in the pink.
A Jan. 20 letter from Miami-based IMC Equity Group, which owns the plaza, read, “We have some exiting news to share! We will be painting the Pink Plaza starting on February 6th thru February 24th.” What the letter did not include was what color the building would be painted.
By last Wednesday afternoon, the whole back side of the building and the retaining wall behind it were yellow.
Steve Troeger, who owns All Keys Cycles at the plaza, started a petition and collected at least 30 names asking IMC Equity Group to keep the plaza pink. He said many tenants use the color in their own business marketing.
But Troeger said his effort to reason with property management was in vain.
Paul and Marlene Berger, who’ve been Pink Plaza tenants for 13 years, said they never imagined the plaza, which has been pink since opening in 1986, would ever be painted a different color.
“It would be like painting the White House blue,” said Paul Berger, who operates a dental office there.
An IMC Equity Group representative, who asked not to be identified, told the Free Press last Wednesday that “banana cream” yellow was chosen for the plaza as part of the corporation’s branding campaign. When asked if the Dollar Tree at the Island Market Place plaza, which the same corporation owns, would be painted the same yellow, he said, “No, they have their own colors.”
He said that the Pink Plaza building as it stands now looks white and added it was a shame that people were complaining about the color choice when the owner was trying to make it beautiful.
“It’s so faded and it needs to be painted. It will be tropical, it’s going to look nice,” he said.
But even on-site painter William Blanco thought the color choice was unusual.
“It’s weird to be painting the plaza yellow,” he said. “Ever since I was a kid, it’s always been pink.”
After the Free Press contacted Oscar Fiallos, IMC Equity Group’s leasing director, he said sometimes decisions look good on paper but aren't. He said he didn’t realize the effect the color change would have on the community. He said IMC is a community-oriented company and that it would eat the $70,000 spent on the “banana cream” yellow paint.
“We are going to change it back to pink,” he said. “We heard everyone speak up, and we’re going to do what is right.”
By Thursday morning, the painters flipped over petition signs posted by the tenants and wrote, “The Pink Plaza is being painted pink.”
Troeger was pleased.
“I think it’s more of a salmon-pink, but at least it’s pink. Things may be a shade off, but at least it’s the same color,” he said, adding, “Crisis averted.”