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More condos may spear skyline

Another project, this one planned at 100 First Ave. S, would be only 26 feet shorter than the Bank of America tower.

By SHARON L. BOND, Times Staff Writer

Published June 27, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - As vacant land for downtown development disappears, parking lots become prime candidates for condominium towers.

A 360-foot one is now planned for the L-shaped parking lot at BayView Tower, the former William C. Cramer federal office building at 100 First Ave. S.

According to designs submitted to the city late last week, BayView Tower would be only 26 feet shorter than the Bank of America tower, the city's tallest building.

The design calls for a 27-story complex of 103 condos, retail shops and restaurants and a parking garage. It would be a $75-million project, according to paperwork filed with the city.

Developers are in the process of getting clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Though plans are not final and designs not set, the condominiums could start in the $250,000 range for a one-bedroom unit with approximately 1,000 square feet of space, according to architect Tim Clemmons. He is designing the project for Gulf Atlantic Real Estate Cos. of Tampa. Joel Cantor is part of that company and in 1999 bought the empty federal office building. He refurbished it and now has it fully occupied with businesses, Clemmons said.

"It would be a contemporary-style building with a lot of glass," Clemmons said of the tower. "It would be of a more modern and contemporary character" than other recently built condominium towers such as the Florencia, Cloisters or Vinoy Place, all of which have something of a Mediterranean look.

Cantor hopes to begin construction early next year, Clemmons said.

The existing office building, which is seven stories, leaves an L-shaped space on the block bounded by First and Second avenues S and First and Second streets.

The new complex would have the same L-shape, Clemmons said, and the tower would rise at the intersection of the L. Along Second Avenue S would be an eight-level garage above retail while the base along First Street S would have three stories of lofts above retail.

"The tower would be at the corner of the block and be very thin," Clemmons said. It would be oriented with its long axis in an east-west direction to avoid obstructing water views of the office building and structures farther west.

The plan for the tower would allow about 7,000 square feet per floor. That would be divided among four units, Clemmons said.

In the past five years, downtown has almost become synonymous with condominiums. In fact downtown owes a lot of its resurgence to the residents moving in. Their presence requires other services such as entertainment venues and shopping plazas, which have come on line.

The Cloisters and the Florencia on Beach Drive NE were the first new luxury towers to open and they had a total of 82 units. They were followed by Vinoy Place, which has four towers and 102 units. Parkshore Plaza is under construction in the 300 block of Beach Drive and will have 120 units. Plans for the 400 block of Beach Drive call for 145 units, though that project is not completely set.

McNulty Lofts has 85 units under construction. Others in the planning stage include a complex for the Tropicana block (at Central and First Street N) with 400 condominiums and Bayway Lofts at Third Avenue N between Second and Third streets, which could have 277 units in a building that would be the city's tallest. However, Bayway Lofts is back in the design stages.

St. Petersburg's downtown residential resurgence has come at a time when, nationally, people are returning to urban settings. Clemmons said he thought with the Tampa Bay area population of 2.5-million, it would take only a small percent who wanted to be condo buyers to keep the market from being saturated by the number of units now planned for downtown.

"I think the market in the very near term is deep," Clemmons said. "I think we could build several hundred units per year for years to come."

[Last modified June 27, 2004, 01:00:42]


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Parkshore Plaza - coming out of the ground as I write this



Concept of possible new Dali museum


Grady Pridgen's idea for lofts and a sports hall of fame near the dome



The strangely not white Casablanca towers


The Orion


Then there is the Tropicana Block 932/20), teh HAborside (14), and the other one above.

There are also a load of little things going on all over downtown, like renovations and townhouses, and the like.

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Long overlooked Dome District now buzzing with projects


Published July 5, 2004


ST. PETERSBURG - More than 100 new residences, plus offices and stores, are being planned in the once-neglected area of Midtown St. Petersburg where a blockbuster redevelopment project was announced earlier this month.

The first week of June, developer Grady Pridgen said he wants to build 320 new condominiums, some restaurants and offices and to relocate the Florida Sports Hall of Fame to 3 acres on Central Avenue east of 16th Street S.

Now three more developers say they are under contract to buy property near Tropicana Field between Eighth and 11th streets along Central Avenue. As envisioned, what are now vacant lots and abandoned buildings would become lofts, town homes, restaurants, shops and offices.

The infusion of new homes and businesses would be the first in an area that has lagged behind the bustling downtown waterfront.

"If these projects do come to fruition, it'll start closing up some of the gaps," said Kevin Dunn, managing director of development for the city. "Sandwiched in between the galleries on Central and the Grand Central area is a void."

Representatives of all three groups have talked to Dunn about their plans. In addition to Pridgen's proposal:

Housing, office or retail space may supplant the old Landmark Union Trust Bank building at 895 Central Ave., as part of the sale of the two blocks between First Avenue N and First Avenue S, between Eighth and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. streets.

Two five-story buildings containing stores, offices and 20 lofts may be built on the south side of Central Avenue between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 11th streets.

100 loft-style homes and townhomes may be built between Central and First Avenue S on the east side of 11th Street.

None of the developers has disclosed the sales prices for the properties, and so far none has filed plans or sought the necessary development approvals from the city. The site plan of each project would need to be approved before construction could begin.

"If all four of these go through, it will be very dramatic," said Tim Clemmons, a local architect representing one of the development groups, a St. Petersburg family who wishes to remain anonymous until it closes on the purchase of the property, possibly in August or September.

The projects in discussion are the kind of development the city had hoped would come to the area, known as the Dome District, when Major League Baseball came to Tropicana Field nearly six years ago. But it may be the arts as much as sports that has helped draw these developers' interest.

Evelyn Craft said some developers have told her the Arts Center at 719 Central Ave. and nearby galleries are a strong lure.

"They've told me that they see the Arts Center as critical to wanting to develop the area," said Craft, executive director of the center, which includes classroom and gallery space.

Nearly 30 to 40 percent of the lots in the Dome District are vacant or rarely used, Dunn said.

"It has a lot of large, single-ownership properties that are largely vacant and available for redevelopment," he said. "It's easy to put together the land."

Jason Perry, a partner in Miles Properties, an Atlanta developer that plans to build 100 new loft-style homes and townhomes in the area, said it was only a matter of time before the Dome District was discovered.

"We've been looking at St. Pete for a long time," Perry said. "We finally found the right property."

From east to west on Central, the first project is the 5 acres between First Avenue N and First Avenue S, Eighth and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. streets. That's the current site of a Bank of America building and the old Landmark Union Trust Bank building.

Developers Jimmy Aviram and Dean Kucera are under contract to buy the land and are scheduled to close in October or November. Aviram and Kucera intend to keep the Bank of America building.

There are many possibilities for the Landmark Union property. One could be demolition and construction of homes, stores and offices. Another could be restoring the building.

"We have no idea what we're going to do with it," said Kucera.

The second project, the one Clemmons is working on, would be on Central between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 11th streets S. The anonymous developers are under contract to buy 11/2 mostly vacant acres of the two blocks and are scheduled to close on it in August or September.

Construction could begin in the first part of next year, Clemmons said. No prices have have been set for the offices and lofts.

The third project would be between Central Avenue and First Avenue S at 11th Street S. Miles Properties is under contract to buy the 1.7 vacant acres and is scheduled to close on it at the beginning of August. The company envisions building lofts and townhomes.

Perry said the project would be similar to the one that the company is set to complete in Tampa in early September. The company is building 42 units on the Hillsborough River at 1501 Doyle Carlton Drive, in a development it calls The Arts Center Lofts.

Prices for the St. Petersburg lofts would range from $160,000 to $250,000. The lofts would be in a seven-story building that faces First Avenue S. The townhomes would range from $315,000 to $330,000 and face Central Avenue.

About five blocks west of Miles Properties, Pridgen is planning to build three interconnected five-story buildings. The first floor of each would be retail and office space. The development also would include 40,000 square feet of retail space featuring two or three restaurants and an art gallery.

A pedestrian plaza would overlook Booker Creek, Pridgen said. The condominiums would be priced between $150,000 and $250,000.

Redevelopment of the Dome District is a key element of the city's plans to bring new housing and jobs to Midtown, the predominantly black area of the city where civil disturbances erupted last month and in 1996.

Lou Brown, an African-American Realtor and Midtown property owner, said he welcomes the growth but is concerned that as it expands it will make the area too expensive for longtime residents. As renters, many Midtown residents are vulnerable to the price hikes that attend real estate booms, he said.

"The money can be made," he said. "But God, what happens to the people?"

- Times staff writers Carrie Johnson and Sharon Bond contributed to this report.

[Last modified July 4, 2004, 23:46:09]


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I'm SO glad development is catching on the Dome District along Central and the 1st Avenues. Central Avenue really needs this kind of development, and with those prices, those units will definately sell fast. I always thought of Central Avenue as the road that could attract the young "creative classs" and a good place to foster entrepreneurship. It could also be the main strip for the city's nightlife that would serve as a more artsy, sophisticated alternative to 7th Ave in Ybor City. That way, the two would complement each other as opposed to competing. I hope all of these projects get built, and infuse a shot of youth into DT.

BTW, hope a new dining and entertainment district on the dome property is not too far in the future as well. ;)

I'm also looking forward to renderings of all these new projects, including the Tropicana Block towers, the redesigned Bayway Lofts (likely shorter) and this new Bayview Tower. At least we know the last two will have a more modern look to them. I hope the Tropicana Block towers will, too.

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In response to Lou Brown, there's PLENTY of opportunity for redevelopment right in the heart of Midtown. 4th, MLK, 16th and 22nd Streets S as well as 18th Ave S are SCREAMING for some urban development that could bring more affordable housing and amenities to the area. Also, there are plenty or underutilized or vacant buildings and lots that can be developed into housing. Unfortunately, it seems as if they want to suburbanize the area with strip shopping centers and suburban-style housing. This type of development poses more of a threat to affordable housing in Midtown than what's happenning on Central Avenue, IMO.

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