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Developer will scale back condo tower plan

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Bayway Lofts was to be St. Petersburg's tallest building at 42 stories. But concerns mean it will shrink to 29 stories.

By SHARON L. BOND, Times Staff Writer

Published July 22, 2004


ST. PETERSBURG - Bayway Lofts, which would have been the tallest building in downtown St. Petersburg if built as planned, has shrunk.

Redrawn plans filed with the city this week call for this newest project by developer Grady Pridgen to be 371 feet high instead of a record 510. It would rise 29 stories instead of 42.

Pridgen redesigned it after the initial height drew protests.

A rooftop restaurant remains, and the project would have more condominiums: 350 units instead of 277. Prices would be $200,000 to $500,000, a range that is lower than many of the luxury condominium towers built in the downtown in the past five years. Sizes are not set yet but probably would range from 1,200 to 2,400 square feet.

"We think there is a great demand for residential housing in downtown," Pridgen said Wednesday.

The price tag has changed. Instead of a $50-million project, Bayway Lofts will now cost $100-million even though it would be shorter.

"Construction costs have skyrocketed in the last 18 months because of the scarcity of steel and concrete," Pridgen said.

The site is the same: a little more than an acre that makes up four lots on Third Avenue N and two lots on Second Street, within sight of BayWalk, the multimillion-dollar entertainment complex.

Pridgen filed initial plans for Bayway Lofts a little more than a year ago. But St. Petersburg officials rejected them because of the size and height of the project.

Pridgen said he hopes to start construction on the new design in about a year.

Pridgen has announced projects totaling more than half a billion dollars in the Tampa Bay area in recent years, and Bayway Lofts is among the most visible. At 510 feet, Bayway Lofts would have been 124 feet higher than the city's tallest building, the Bank of America tower. At its new height, 371 feet, it still would be one of downtown's tallest buildings.

Neighbors complained about the height in initial plans, saying the building would cast a shadow over their smaller homes.

Martha Haile lives in the Huntington Townhomes, which are three stories high and behind the Bayway site. She said last year she did not want to look out her window at a garage. On Wednesday, she said she needed to know more about the revised plans before commenting.

The revision calls for 353 parking spaces in the first six stories of the tower.

City Council member Virginia Littrell said 29 stories is better than 42. "I know the staff had real heartburn about 42 stories," Littrell said.

The Bayway Lofts site is sort of a dividing line between the Old Northeast neighborhood and downtown, Littrell said.

"It would have to have pedestrian amenities on the first floor. It shouldn't block off people from moving around that area," she said.

Pridgen said the stores planned for the first floor would attract pedestrians.

Pridgen's name is attached to numerous projects in the Tampa Bay area, most of them in Pinellas County. The majority of them are still in the planning or permitting stages.

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Disappointing, but expected.

510 ft at the northern edge of DT was bound to not get approved. 510 ft. a block or two south of there would've flown, though. Oh, well. At least we're getting something. Actually, looks like we'll be getting two towers from Mr. Pridgen (hopefully) with the 4th Street Lofts project.

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Its disappointing, but with the current popularity that downtown St. Pete is enjoying, a new "tallest" will come sooner or later. Plus, like Jahi98, its better than nothing. As long as it offers something at street level, its okay in my book.

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I agree. A new "tallest" will come soon enough. Who knows? One of the proposals for the Florida International Museum site could be a new "tallest" (I hope so). There's still plenty of opportunity in DT St. Pete to build tall.

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