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More Condos from Novare Intown Group

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The developers of the sold out SkyPoint tower are planning two more projects a block away.

By MICHAEL VAN SICKLER, Times Staff Writer

Published February 7, 2006

TAMPA - Strong demand for condos in the sold out $31.6-million SkyPoint tower, which will be completed later this year, persuaded its developers to plan two more projects a block away.

The Novare-Intown Tampa Development Co. filed zoning applications this week at City Hall for two towers, each one planned for 34 stories with a combined 805 units. If completed, the three towers would transform an area once reserved for parking lots and billboards into a neighborhood of young professionals.

"Novare Group is extremely pleased with the market acceptance of SkyPoint," said John Akin, the lead developer on the project, in a Tuesday statement.

City officials cheered the plans, saying they mesh nicely with Mayor Pam Iorio's goal of transforming downtown into a residential neighborhood quite unlike the ghost town it becomes after a typical work day. Iorio's top projects to accomplish this are Riverwalk, an overhaul of Ashley Drive and slowing traffic on other streets.

With sale prices in the new towers expected to fetch between $170,000 and $475,000, Tampa's economic development director said the intended residents are exactly the type downtown needs.

"(Novare) is not marketing to a second home market, where a unit will be occupied only part of year," Mark Huey said. "They really are targeting a younger, more vital population that will bring energy to downtown."

City Attorney David Smith said the developers want to move swiftly. The zoning plans are expected to go before the City Council in March. Construction on one tower is aimed to begin in June, with the second for September.

SkyPoint will have 32 stories and 380 units when completed. On the block north of that project is a 1-acre lot along Ashley Drive owned by TECO. Motorists know it by the billboard that's now advertising Guinness beer. It's also where TECO employees park.

Novare plans a 34-story building stretching 445 feet into the sky. It would have 400 units, with more than half having one bedroom and averaging 745 square feet in size. Another 181 units will have two bedrooms and average about 1,143 square feet.

To the east of this property is another parking lot. This one sits along N Franklin Street, diagonal from the Tampa Theatre. TECO employees also park here.

Franklin is attracting much attention from developers. The Franklin Street City Lofts, Residences of Franklin Street, The Arlington, another loft complex, and a small building with a new restaurant, Fly, are all underway.

On the eastern lot, Novare plans to build a 460-foot-tall tower with 405 condos. It plans on 274 one-bedroom units, with an average size of 969 square feet, and 131 two-bedroom units, with an average of 1,200 square feet.

The site plans also earmark a combined 23,000 square feet for retail, which could include restaurants and delis, convenience stores and specialty shops. Developers will work with city officials to comply with public art and open space requirements, which could include brick pavers, and decorative canopies, awnings, planters and light fixtures.

On both towers, the first nine levels will be reserved for ground uses and parking with a total of 1,575 spaces.

TECO owns both lots. As part of the land sale, which is still pending, Novare will set aside 190 spaces in each tower for TECO employees. During evenings and weekends, these spaces would also be used by the public.

"One of the important factors that convinced us to sell was Novare's intention to do something now," said TECO spokesman Ross Bannister. "That's important to us. We want a thriving downtown community."

-From St. Pete Times

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