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Mixed-use project in St. Pete gets extension

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Mixed-use project in St. Pete gets one-year extension

Jane Meinhardt

Staff writer

ST. PETERSBURG -- This Opus is in its second movement.

The city has granted Opus South Corp. a one-year extension on its site plan approval for a high-rise mixed-use development downtown that could cost more than $100 million.

The St. Petersburg Environmental Development Commission's initial approval in April 2003 for the luxury condominium and retail project in the 400 block of Beach Drive Northeast would have expired in October.

But it doesn't mean the project is late or behind.

Construction on a project must begin within 18 months from commission approval date or the approval is invalid. One or more extensions may be granted.

There may be some changes in the project when Opus South unveils its conceptual design for the development in October, said Jerry Shaw, senior VP of Opus South in Tampa.

It is uncertain at this point if any possible changes would require the developer to again seek commission approval for the project, he said.

"We always knew we would have to get an extension, so we just did it now," Shaw said.

The current plan calls for a 30-story, 150-unit development with 23,900 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space on the ground level.

Opus South plans to break ground on the project -- referred to as 400 Beach Drive until a name is finalized -- in early 2005.

Two projects at once

This means the developer will have two high-rise projects under construction at the same time on Beach Drive Northeast.

It also means the developer is staging construction to complete one project about a year before the other, a strategy that helps spur demand.

Parkshore Plaza, the Opus South mixed-use development going up about a block south of 400 Beach Drive, is expected to be finished in early 2006.

"A lot of interest has been expressed as a result of Parkshore," Shaw said. "We're further ahead on 400 Beach Drive than we were on Parkshore."

Parkshore is a $100-million development. The project is a 29-story tower with 118 residential units and 24,000 square feet of retail space.

Residences at Parkshore range in size from 1,600-square-foot townhomes to a penthouse that occupies the entire top floor.

Prices range from about $260,000 for each of the four small townhomes to $3.5 million for the grand penthouse. All five penthouse units are sold.

As of Tuesday, only 10 units were left at Parkshore, said Doug Swain, Realtor and project manager at Smith & Associates.

"St. Petersburg is a very small town," he said. "People know it's going to be a good project like Parkshore even though they don't know yet what it will look like."

The projects tap into the synergy of being downtown and are part of the nationwide movement to return to city living, said Realtor John Gower, whose office is on Beach Drive Northeast.

"Beach Drive is like Boardwalk," he said. "Then there's the water and The Pier. These are the jewels of St. Petersburg."

Shaw expects sales of the 400 Beach Drive project to ramp up late this year or early next year. Price points have not been determined, but he noted that construction and material prices are increasing.

In addition to creating a sales and marketing segue from one project to another, Opus South will be better able to expedite and coordinate construction, manpower and equipment because the developer will be building two projects almost next to each other, Shaw said.

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