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Old August 4th, 2006, 04:33 PM   #61
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A small step forward

Does West Bay's future point upward?
Largo's plan for a "city center" in the area would increase density and perhaps allow buildings of six stories or taller.
By LORRI HELFAND, Times Staff Writer
Published August 4, 2006

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LARGO - Most who attended the city's first Downtown Economic Summit welcomed the idea of a very different West Bay Drive.

About 60 residents, property owners and business leaders attended the summit Friday at Largo Library, featuring an explanation of the city's plan to make the West Bay area a "city center," with as many as 40 units per acre in residential and mixed-use areas.

The area of about 300 acres has mostly one- and two-story buildings and allows a maximum density of 15 units per acre. Officials discussed increasing units on or near West Bay Drive by building structures six stories or higher.

Mike Staffopoulos, community development director, said market research showed the city had to increase the number of homes to support current and future businesses in the district.

Most at the summit were open to the idea of doubling or tripling the number of homes allowed in the district, which spans from west of the Pinellas Trail to Largo Central Park.

"It seems to me the city center concept would be absolutely ideal," said Jim Parker, a property owner and former president of the Downtown Largo Main Street Association.

Largo/Mid-Pinellas Chamber of Commerce president Tom Morrissette said chamber members would back as many as 45 units per acre.

Chamber members also suggested increasing parking options and improving signage, he said.

Property owner Jim Janowski said he supports taller buildings, too, but he wants the city to make sure it can handle the increased traffic that comes with more people.

"I'm all for a vertical increase in density, but what about traffic management," he said. "I don't see the city doing anything to attack that problem."

Staffopoulos said mixed-use developments encourage people to use their cars less. He also said the city is exploring improvements to local mass transit.

Resident Marie Singer said she also was concerned about traffic and the increased crime that comes with cramming lots of people in one place.

Another resident, Curtis Holmes, asked if the area could handle more stress on utilities. He also questioned building up in an area that would be difficult to evacuate in case of a hurricane.

"Why would we continue adding people into a zone where we could be looking at the jaws of death?" he asked.

Plans for the district have been in the works for about a decade. For years, the vision of downtown has been a quaint mix of shops and townhomes.

"Quaint is dying. Quaint has not worked," said City Manager Steve Stanton.

So, in recent months, city leaders have moved toward a more urban vision.

"The only fault I can find is that it's taking this long," said Aleta Higgins, a resident and restaurant owner in the Clearwater-Largo Road area.

Development along West Bay Drive has been sporadic and limited. Most of it has been spurred by city involvement.

In 2002, after several unsuccessful bids, the city sold the former City Hall property to Hyde Park Builders for $1.08-million, half of what officials said it was worth. The developer built 54 townhomes and a commercial complex called West Bay Village.

Two years later, the city sold its old Police Department property for $800,0000 to BayStar Hotel Group, which built the Hampton Inn & Suites. The 2.6-acre site was appraised at about $1.3-million.

During the past 15 years, the city has amassed about a dozen properties near the Community Center in the district. It now plans to combine those properties and market them to a developer.

Stanton said he was pleased that most people who attended the meeting supported the concept, but wished more showed up. The city will hold many more meetings to get feedback from those who live, work and own property in the district, he said.

A City Commission work session on the West Bay Drive area plan is scheduled for September.

[Last modified August 3, 2006, 20:19:17]
http://www.sptimes.com/2006/08/04/No..._s_futur.shtml
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Old August 4th, 2006, 07:44 PM   #62
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Hope a new, more urban plan gets approved. Seminole and Pinellas Park should follow suit.
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Old August 4th, 2006, 07:48 PM   #63
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A city center for largo would be nice but they have a good question about traffic because that area has alot of traffic i know because i go to largo high school.
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Old August 15th, 2006, 12:06 AM   #64
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I like this idea i think it would make St.Pete a very nice, unique, dowtown and also spark more developement in the area.


------------------------------------------------------------------------

Seattle, San Francisco and St. Petersburg?
The push is on to create a fisherman's wharf along St. Petersburg's waterfront. It would revitalize the area, some say. The city isn't so sure.
By AARON SHAROCKMAN and STEPHEN NOHLGREN
Published August 13, 2006

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ST. PETERSBURG - Desperate for space to unload their catch, commercial fisherman want the city to make the Port of St. Petersburg into a thriving fisherman's wharf.

The open-air seafood market - like ones already in Seattle, San Francisco and other major coastal cities - would draw curious tourists and give new downtown residents another destination along St. Petersburg's sprawling waterfront, the fishermen say.

The fisherman say the public wharf also could reinvigorate Florida's smallest port, which has lost $1.2-million since October 2003. It stands to lose an additional $748,000 next year, according to the city.

But city leaders aren't sure what they want to do on the waterfront.

The area already serves as a base of operations for the Coast Guard and several marine research institutions, and the city has long wished the port would become a cruise destination.

Presented recently with the idea of adding a fish market, Mayor Rick Baker was reluctant to commit to any specific future.

For local fishermen, however, St. Petersburg may be their last great hope.

"We are not asking for a free lunch," said Will Ward, a St. Petersburg resident and third-generation fisherman who owns Captain's Finest Seafood in Tampa. "We are asking for something that will provide revenue.

"We could put 100 boats down there tomorrow."

Nowhere else to go

Commercial fishing is a $100-million industry in Pinellas County, Ward estimates. But the local industry is in risk of dying because there is nowhere left for commercial fishermen to dock.

In the past seven years, Pinellas County has lost three of its four largest fish houses to development. The last remaining one, Madeira Beach Seafood, sits on leased land that is for sale.

A handful of small fish houses operate in Tarpon Springs, Madeira Beach and Redington Shores, but their slips can hold only a few dozen boats.

Ward and Bobby Spaeth, who owns Madeira Beach Seafood, are searching for new locations to develop, but coastal land is too expensive.

That's why both have turned to St. Petersburg, a city that still owns much of its waterfront.

Though the two men are working independently, their ideas for the port are similar.

Both want to turn the area into a working waterfront for commercial fisherman.

They believe the spectacle of huge fish being unloaded, hundreds of pounds at a time, is enough to create a tourist attraction.

Plus, visitors could purchase fresh fish right on the waterfront. Where grouper would cost $16 a pound at a grocery store, Ward said it could sell for $10 a pound directly from the fishermen.

There could be flowers and produce and antiques for sale nearby, even a seafood restaurant, Ward and Spaeth say.

"This could be an East Coast San Francisco if they could do it right," said Martin Fisher, a commercial fisherman who sells his catch at St. Petersburg's Saturday market.

"It's just not a place for us to unload our fish," added Ward. "It becomes a BayWalk Two."

Besides dock space, the fishermen would need a place to refuel and huge ice machines to keep their catch fresh, Ward and Spaeth said. They're unsure how much the changes would cost, or who would pay for them.

For it to happen, though, city officials might have to finally abandon one of their longest-held hopes, that St. Petersburg can become a destination for cruise ships.

'Call' unanswered

St. Petersburg leaders have hoped to make their city a port of call for the cruise industry since at least 1986. But cruise ships, including the troubled Ocean Jewel gambling casino, have failed to stick here.

City officials, however, continue to hold some hope.

The city is waiting on a Army Corps of Engineers report to see if a channel could be dug to accommodate hulking, modern cruise liners. That report, due later this year, will likely determine the city's next step.

In the meantime, a series of expansions are being considered along the 1,200-foot-long port wall, including 25,000 additional square feet of retail space and a marine educational component called Port Discovery. That plan, fishermen say, could adapt well into a Fisherman's Wharf-type concept.

Such a partnership would not be unique.

In Martin County, the government agreed in 2004 to lease 600 feet of public dock space to commercial fishermen.

Mike Baker, president of the nonprofit group formed to run the dock, said a riverwalk has already been built and plans are being discussed to add a market component.

And just last month in Indian River County, county commissioners agreed to purchase an old fish house for $1.5-million. Commissioner Wesley Davis, who had pushed the county to purchase the property for more than a year, said it's part of the county's fishing history worth preserving.

Like Martin County, Indian River plans to form a not-for-profit to operate the fish house, located in Sebastian.

"You know the draw people have to the water," Davis said. "Anybody who has had opportunity to watch a working fish operation knows it turns into a tourist attraction."

Could it work here?

City officials like the thought of a working waterfront, though they differ on where it might work best.

Rick Mussett, the city development administrator, said conceivably a wharf could be constructed into the approach to the city's Pier, which is scheduled to be rebuilt in the coming years.

And Mayor Rick Baker said there may be possibilities at the south end of Bayboro Harbor, opposite the port facilities.

"Over the past few years, with the real estate industry being as hot as it is, lots of folks said to change the zoning to allow residential," Baker said of the area around the harbor. "But I've resisted that. Having a marine area is a good thing."

Baker said he would meet with the fishermen to discuss the concept.

City Council member Jamie Bennett said he's interested in the fish house concept at the port, where he said something needs to be done.

"I like the idea of a fisherman's wharf," said Bennett, who offered to work with the fishing industry on a proposal. "What we have down there isn't working. It's high time to try something else.

"Tampa has the port facility," Bennett said. "We need to go for another niche."

Aaron Sharockman can be reached at 727 892-2273 or [email protected].

[Last modified August 13, 2006, 01:23:13]

http://www.sptimes.com/2006/08/13/So...Francisc.shtml

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Old August 17th, 2006, 01:45 AM   #65
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The fishermen's wharf idea is worth exploring.

Ovation's website is up.

www.ovationjmc.com
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Old August 17th, 2006, 02:36 AM   #66
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Yeah definitely... I think it's a fine idea, and will help the county retain an industry that sounds like it would otherwise be lost... Heck, it might wind up strengthening it...
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Old August 22nd, 2006, 06:21 AM   #67
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Trendy future for 1100 Building

By MIKE DONILA
Published August 21, 2006

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CLEARWATER - Right now, the old office building on the 1100 block of Cleveland Street is empty.

Some of its windows are busted out, the color is faded, the awning is torn and the parking lot is barren.

But builders say that's expected to change soon.

Officials with a local real estate development and investment company say they're ready to put $45-million into the Clearwater Centre, a 15-story tower at the eastern gateway to the city's downtown core.

The company, Clearwater Centre LLC, says it will transform the 34-year-old building into a trendy mixed-use development of luxury condos, stores and offices.

Work begins in early fall, and company officials say the building will be ready by spring 2008.

Local leaders say Clearwater Centre, often dubbed "the 1100 Building," will continue the city's efforts to reinvigorate the downtown area.

"Part of the downtown revitalization strategy is getting people to live there ... because once you get the people in, that creates a demand for restaurants and retail," City Manager Bill Horne said. "I think this is an excellent project that will preserve a corner in that part of the downtown in the east and serve as a catalyst for more development there."

The Clearwater Centre LLC project joins several other planned or ongoing housing initiatives downtown, including a 157-unit condominium tower called Water's Edge, which is replacing Calvary Baptist Church; the 146-condo unit Station Square; and another project along Fort Harrison Avenue.

Although the housing market is slow, neither Horne nor Clearwater Centre managing partner Guy Bonneville is concerned about being able to sell the condos, saying the market moves in cycles. Bonneville also said he wasn't worried about possibly oversaturating downtown with condos.

"It doesn't bother me in the least bit," he said. "We're looking at a unique situation that downtown Clearwater offers. This is a ground-floor opportunity.

"There hasn't been a lot happening in a long time and now the city is redoing the landscape, talking about putting a marina at our footsteps, and there are other projects going in. So, we feel really good about what's happening here."

The company bought Clearwater Centre in October 2004 for $5.7-million. In the past, it has mostly been used for offices. Now, though, Bonneville says the plan is to renovate the tower and build a three-story perimeter building connecting to it.

Overall, the property will include 71 condos, 17 one- and two-story residences, and more than 20,000 square feet of upscale retail and office space. The property also will include concierge services, a pool and spa area, as well as a fitness center and party room.

Bonneville said the condos will range from 1,100 square feet to 3,300 square feet in various configurations with one, two and three bedrooms. They will cost between $230,000 and $1.5-million.

Bonneville says, so far, Violet's Caf, a bakery, will move into the building, and he's meeting with two other retail companies, but declined to provide any details about those discussions.

In addition, the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce is moving in. Clearwater Centre LLC recently bought the chamber's 22,000-square-foot building next door for $1.9-million.

Chamber officials said they didn't need as much space, but wanted to stay in the downtown.

"We certainly feel it's very important ... and with all the revitalization and renewal projects going on ... we think in a couple years time it will be a totally different place for people to come and see," said Beth Coleman, chamber president. "It's a very exciting time for downtown Clearwater."

Clearwater Centre LLC officials are still ironing out the details for the chamber building, as well as a 4-acre site they own across the street at Cleveland Street and Madison Avenue.

They say that site - the former Stone Buick dealership - might not tie in with the Clearwater Centre tower project.

Bonneville said the focus for this area is a "lifestyles center" that includes restaurants, retail and offices, but "nothing is firm right now."

Mike Donila can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4160.

ABOUT THE PROJECT

What: Clearwater Centre LLC has plans to turn the 15-story tower at 1100 Cleveland St. into a mixed-use development that will include 71 luxury condominiums and more than 20,000 square feet of retail space.

When: Work starts in the fall, with a scheduled spring 2008 opening date.

COST: About $45-million, according to developers.

Who: So far, the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce and a bakery, Violet's Caf, have committed to moving in.

More information: To check out pictures of the proposed condominiums, visit 1021 Cleveland St. in downtown Clearwater or call (727) 443-1797.
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Old August 24th, 2006, 03:55 PM   #68
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Demolition finished at Signature Place worksite
Tampa Bay Business Journal - 3:02 PM EDT Wednesday

After nearly 10 weeks of wrecking ball demolition, BayView Tower in downtown St. Petersburg is now completely gone. The site where the seven-story, 182,000-square-foot building that was once the William C. Cramer Federal Building once stood will now make way for the 35-story Signature Place tower being constructed by Cantor Development.

JVS Contracting Inc. started the $1.1 million demolition project on June 8 and wrapped up Aug. 15. Demolition workers are now clearing the site of nearly 900 tons of debris, which is expected to take another four to six weeks. Groundbreaking for what will be the tallest building in Pinellas County when finished will take place in the fall.


"We are making steady progress and look forward to finishing off the summer with a blank canvas of a site in which to create the most spectacular livable work of art this city has ever seen," said Joel Cantor, chief executive officer of Cantor Development, in a release.

Signature Place will feature 203 condo residences, with prices beginning at $400,000. There also will be 40 lofts, more than 19,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, more than 36,700 square feet of office space, and a 505-space parking facility. Signature Place also will feature a 35,000-square-foot Sky Garden Oasis, an urban plaza with a six-story waterwall, as well as a spa.

The structure will take up an entire city block at 100 First Ave. S. in St. Petersburg. The first residents are expected to begin moving in by the end of next year.

http://tampabay.bizjournals.com/tamp...ml?jst=b_ln_hl
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Old August 29th, 2006, 01:06 AM   #69
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I'm surprised that there isn't more buzz around here, considering that Pinellas County's new tallest is about to break ground soon.
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Old August 29th, 2006, 01:11 AM   #70
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I don't think the heights are really understood - Iget confused and I have a very nice list.

By thw way, where was the forum
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Old August 29th, 2006, 01:16 AM   #71
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Getting worked on... It will go down again for a couple of days around this weekend too. The whole server configuration was upgraded, and a powerful database server is being installed to the network.... yeah, something like that.
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Old August 29th, 2006, 01:40 AM   #72
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Didn't realize it was THAT building. Awesome stuff.
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Old August 29th, 2006, 04:39 AM   #73
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I'll have to find the article, but the condo project in Dunedin has been scrapped.
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Old August 29th, 2006, 08:44 PM   #74
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I think One Windward just wasn't in the best location, neither was it all that remarkable, for the prices they were going for.

Snell Isle project gains key support

Neighbors are pleased that SunTrust and Mickey's market would remain in the condo-marina-retail project.

By PAUL SWIDER
Published August 27, 2006

http://www.sptimes.com/2006/08/27/Ne...oject_ga.shtml
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ST. PETERSBURG -- After 18 months, several community meetings and numerous rewrites, Carlos Yepes thinks he finally has neighborhood approval for his plan to redevelop Snell Isle Plaza.

Yepes, of Belleair Development Group, will take his $30-million condo-retail-marina project before the city's Environmental Development Commission next month, but he doesn't expect much opposition. Prime among neighborhood concerns was retaining the SunTrust Bank and Mickey's Snell Isle Market, which he has pledged to do.

"Those two elements were very important to the neighbors," said Yepes, who has partnered on the mixed-use project with West Palm Beach developer Kolter Communities. "Now everyone's very supportive of the project."

A commercial building would be constructed first on the property's northern portion, so the bank and market would not need to close during construction, he said. When the new building is ready, they'll move over before the existing building makes way for a 14-story tower containing 68 condominiums.

"We're very excited about what's going in," said Barbara Heck, president of the Snell Isle Property Owners Association. "It's a very big change for everyone."

The project includes an arrangement with the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, which operates the Snell Isle Marina next to the site between Placido Bayou and Snell Isle Boulevard. In exchange for a small waterfront parcel on the east and 14 slips in the marina for his condo residents, Yepes will provide a new dockmaster building, new fuel tanks, a parking lot and other marina improvements for the yacht club.

The plan originally was two condo towers, but now it's one 168-foot building, 50 feet taller than the adjacent Brightwater Towers. Yepes also moved the placement of the building on the property and adjusted entrances and landscaping to accommodate neighbors.

Each condo is to stretch across the width of the building and have balconies facing both east and west. Sizes range from 2,500 square feet to double that for penthouse units. Yepes hasn't set prices yet but said he expects them to run from about $1.1-million to $3-million.

"It's all going to be really first class," he said.

Twelve stories of residences would sit on top of a two-story garage. An amenities deck would also rest on the garage and include a pool and spa.

Yepes won't start building the condo tower until half the units are sold, a feat proving difficult for some developers. One, Windward at Harborage, just closed its doors recently and returned money to those who had put down deposits. Without a certain number of sales, developers can't get the required financing to build. Yepes said he remains confident, particularly because the Pinellas Park developer has prominent Kolter as his partner.

Construction of the commercial building could start as early as January, he said, assuming he gets approvals from the city on his site plan and a special exception for the mixed-use development.

The 7,425 square feet of retail space also may include room for some of the other existing tenants, but Yepes said he can't make any guarantees.

Yepes also is creating a contest to let Snell Isle residents choose the name of the complex.

"Whoever picks the name, we'll put them up at the Vinoy for a weekend," he said.

Residents are looking forward to the contest and the project, Heck said. "It's a nice chance for us to have some input," she said. "That'll be fun."

Paul Swider can be reached at 892-2271 or [email protected] or by participating in itsyourtimes.com.

[Last modified August 26, 2006, 20:45:02]
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Old August 29th, 2006, 08:47 PM   #75
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I know it's not a skyscraper, but it's a step in the right direction for the creation of a more urban environment, and some needed affordable housing.

Land beckons affordable units

Developers have been invited to submit ideas for 3 city-owned acres in Midtown.

By JON WILSON, Times Staff Writer
Published August 27, 2006

http://www.sptimes.com/2006/08/27/Ne...affordab.shtml
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ST. PETERSBURG - Hoping to augment the city's affordable-housing stock, officials want a developer to build homes for people who earn less than the median income.

Townhomes are envisioned for 3.1 acres at 13th Avenue S and 21st Street, right behind the Johnnie Ruth Clarke Health Center. New development regulations are expected to allow 27 units per acre.

The homes would generally be reserved for households with an income of no more than 80 percent of the median, as figured by city housing programs.

For a family of four, that would mean an annual income of $43,500 or less, according to current figures - which are subject to change.

"If (developers are) building at this time next year, there could be a new median income," said Mike Dove, a deputy mayor.

About two weeks ago, officials invited developers to submit their ideas. The deadline is Nov. 13.

Construction might start in 12 to 18 months, officials say.

"I know there's interest. As soon as somebody can get on that land, I think they'll probably start," Dove said. He couldn't recall another affordable-housing project in Midtown initiated by the city.

The property is city-owned and close to several new projects along 22nd Street S, including the Sweetbay Supermarket at 18th Avenue. New housing is important to rejuvenate neighborhoods, said Goliath Davis, deputy mayor for Midtown.

"To have businesses, you need rooftops. We need to get ample housing in the area," Davis said. He said community approval of the housing emerged during meetings officials held with residents, and some of their ideas were included in the request for developers to submit proposals.

It's not certain whether the city will sell or lease the land.

"We're trying to see what the best option is," Davis said. "I would suggest it would either have to be a lease or a pretty reasonable sale."

[Last modified August 26, 2006, 20:59:19]
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Old August 29th, 2006, 10:10 PM   #76
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Snell Isle isnt a good place to live with a single family home but with a condo i guess it could work because nobody lives on the first floor so even when it floods alot it wouldnt affect the units as much except for street access.
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Old September 13th, 2006, 02:55 AM   #77
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Very upbeat feature on St. Pete's downtown development in the latest Maddux Report. Of course Signature Place is underway. And it sounds like Arts Plaza, Ovation and Bohemian are pretty much done deals, although Bohemian is delayed until early 2007 due to reconfiguringation.
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Old September 13th, 2006, 03:50 AM   #78
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I drove pass the area when heading to/ back from Ft. Desoto and saw about 4-6 cranes up in the area. Looks pretty sweet!

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Old September 13th, 2006, 01:52 PM   #79
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Downtown may get taller look
By LORRI HELFAND, Times Staff Writer
Published September 13, 2006

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LARGO - The city is moving forward with plans to change the character of downtown.

At Tuesday's City Commission work session, city leaders advised staff to revise a plan for the district that includes buildings up to 10 stories tall along or near West Bay Drive.

"We want to bring the people downtown and we want the densities to get them," Commissioner Rodney Woods said. "I don't think we want to be so restrictive that developers don't want to be there because they can't make money."

Mayor Pat Gerard said the goal was to create a community where people could live, work and play.

While all commissioners said they were open to a handful of taller buildings downtown, Vice Mayor Harriet Crozier and Commissioner Mary Gray Black said they couldn't envision buildings with more than seven stories downtown.

"I just don't see that right in the middle of Largo," Crozier said.

Since a spring city retreat, Largo officials have talked about building more homes downtown to create a stronger market for retail development. Right now, the majority of homes and businesses near the corridor are one- and two-stories tall.

In July, about 60 residents, property owners and business leaders attended a downtown economic summit. Most supported the city's plan for the area, which included taller buildings.

The area of about 300 acres, known as the West Bay Drive Community Redevelopment District, allows a maximum density of 15 units per acre. City staff proposed increasing units in certain areas to allow as many as 45 units per acre for developers who planned to set aside units for affordable housing.

While the proposal would allow taller buildings, there would be requirements to transition the heights of buildings so that multi-story buildings would not be built next to single-story homes.

Mixed-use areas currently hug West Bay Drive. The revised plan also would expand areas slated for a mix of retail and residential to Second Avenue NW and Second Avenue SW.

In the past, development along West Bay Drive has been sporadic and limited, mostly spurred by city involvement.

In 2002, after several unsuccessful bids, the city sold the former City Hall property to Hyde Park Builders for $1.08-million, half of what officials said it was worth. The developer built 54 townhomes and a commercial complex called West Bay Village.

Two years later, the city sold its old Police Department property for $800,000 to BayStar Hotel Group, which built the Hampton Inn & Suites. The 2.6-acre site was appraised at about $1.3-million.

During the past 15 years, the city has amassed more than a dozen properties near the Community Center in the district and along West Bay Drive. It plans to combine those properties and market them to a developer.

[Last modified September 13, 2006, 02:22:43]
http://www.sptimes.com/2006/09/13/No...get_tall.shtml
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Old October 9th, 2006, 08:31 PM   #80
Jahi98
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: St. Petersburg, FL
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Betting the rent on Central Plaza
Plaza Fifth Avenue apartments will go upmarket, thanks to a bullish Chicago developer.

By PAUL SWIDER
Published October 8, 2006

http://www.sptimes.com/2006/10/08/Ne...ent_on_C.shtml
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ST. PETERSBURG - Placing a huge bet on the revitalization of the Central Plaza area, a Chicago developer is planning to turn the Plaza Fifth Avenue apartment complex into an upscale rental community.

"We're creating a new product for this community," said Craig Knight of Providence Management Co., which paid $6.7-million in July for the 200-unit, 12-story building at 441 33rd St. N. "This is exactly what we are experts at redeveloping."

Knight said the redevelopment of the building will take two years and include adding "Class A" amenities like a fitness center and pool, as well as new fixtures, appliances and flooring in the apartments. In August the company secured nearly $23-million in financing for the effort.

"It will be a significant transformation," Knight said.

Knight said the 1962 building had been empty for more than a year when his company bought the property. He said he is working on details of design and branding with architect Tim Clemmons. The resulting complex may have fewer units as the interior is reconfigured.

Knight said the company also owns Lakeside Village Apartments on Fourth Street N, Carrollwood Cove in Tampa and a condominium complex in Fort Myers. Providence owns about 4,500 apartment units mostly in the upper Midwest and is just beginning to reach into Florida.

Central Plaza was once a thriving shopping area but fell out of favor as new malls attracted shoppers. It is undergoing revitalization as buyers rehab bungalows around the Central Avenue corridor and retailers follow. The city's planning efforts focus on Central Plaza as an ongoing center of commerce.

Knight said he identifies the apartment complex with the resurgence of the Kenwood neighborhood that is part of redevelopment's westward march.

He said the nearby bus terminal on Central Avenue, plans for bus rapid transit, and the site's positioning near downtown, Interstate 275 and the beaches will make it an attractive location for tenants. He said his company has been waiting for years for the property to come on the market.

In recent years, several apartment complexes have been sold with the buyers aiming to convert them to condos. Many conversions did occur but, as the condo market has fallen off, some have stalled. Knight said there is still a need for apartment living.

"Pinellas County has lost 11,000 apartments to condos since 2001," he said. "There is a strong demand for quality rental product."

Paul Swider can be reached at 892-2271 or [email protected] or by participating in itsyourtimes.com.

[Last modified October 8, 2006, 07:55:14]
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