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St. Petersburg: 34 story iconic Peninsula Tower

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Narrow design for condo tower sails into town


The Peninsula plan calls for a thin glass and concrete structure to minimize its effect on neighbors' views.

By SHARON L. BOND, Times Staff Writer

Published April 7, 2005


ST. PETERSBURG - One of downtown's tallest buildings also would become one of its most unusual under a proposal from an internationally known architectural firm.

The design for the Peninsula calls for building a thin, glass and concrete condominium tower 366 feet into the air resembling a gossamer sail.

The $90-million to $125-million project near the waterfront also will feature a water wall that slides down the side of a five-story garage from a pool on top.

Ralph Johnson of Perkins+Will, a Chicago firm known for designing Boeing's headquarters, helped create the Peninsula's distinctive design. It drew praise Wednesday during an Environmental Development Commission meeting and gained initial city approval.

Commission Chairman Ben Fisher called it "the nicest looking building I've seen for downtown."

Residents of the nearby Bayfront Tower worried that the new tower would block their water views. But local architect Tim Clemmons, who is working with Johnson, said the project's shape and design were intended to minimize any effect on neighbors' water views.

The Peninsula will be built on the block near the waterfront where the former Cramer Federal Building now stands. Developers said the Federal Aviation Administration has approved the height, which would make the design 22 feet shorter than the Bank of America tower.

The Peninsula tower will be 34 stories high and have 232 condominium units. The project will include a parking garage and six-story office building with two floors of residential units.

Perkins+Will also built the International Terminal at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. The company won awards last year for Skybridge at One North Halstead, a $78-million condominium building in Chicago that also is concrete and glass and contains 237 residences. The company has done projects in 49 states and 43 countries and has 800 employees and an office in Miami.

"To have that kind of talent in St. Petersburg says a lot about the city and a lot about the developer," zoning officer John R. Hixenbaugh said.

Joel Cantor, chief executive officer of Gulf Atlantic Real Estate Corp. in Tampa, owns the former federal building that now is called Bayview Tower. He spent millions over the past few years renovating it and planned to make it part of a mixed-use complex by adding retail space and a condominium tower.

Cantor called Johnson to come to St. Petersburg and inspect the site. When Johnson saw the federal building's proximity to the waterfront, he suggested tearing it down and starting over to achieve what he said would be "true Florida modern."

"I was interested in doing an innovative building," Johnson said.

-- Times correspondent Sheila Mullane Estrada contributed to this report.

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No, they're just kind of catching up right now...


Catching up to who? Tampa? Miami?

It all depends on what city you are comparing it to.

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I'd say, in terms of urban vibrancy and atmosphere, downtown St. Pete is already of downtown Tampa, at this point.  Its just lesser known.


It's great to see how this city has changed in the last 10 years. On any given night (or day for that matter) you can find alot of people milling about and there are new retail shops, restaurants and bars popping up monthly. There is definitely a strong vibe downtown, like I've never seen, it's truly becoming a enterainment destination.

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