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Proposed downtown high-rise hotel draws little opposition
By Paul Swider, Times Staff Writer
In print: Sunday, May 18, 2008


The 22-story hotel would rise on the site of the 1912 Henry-Bryan house and 1910 Chateau France restaurant building. The developer has had a positive response from the Downtown Neighborhood Association.
[Liberty Group]

ST. PETERSBURG

Neighbors are apparently receptive to a new 22-story hotel proposed for downtown if the developer can somehow preserve the old buildings sitting on the site now.

Liberty Group has applied with the city for site approval to build a 252-room, 260-foot-tall hotel on land just off Beach Drive along Fourth Avenue NE. The $54-million building and its restaurants, conference center, spa and other amenities would displace two historic structures: the 1912 Henry-Bryan house and the 1910 Bay Gables house, now operating as Chateau France restaurant.

"The reaction has been real positive," said Tim Clemmons, an architect and a member of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, which met with Liberty in April to discuss the project. "The controversy is not the design; it's the disposition of the historic buildings."

Liberty has suggested moving the Henry-Bryan house to Pioneer Village near Boyd Hill Nature Preserve on the south side of the city. There is some question about whether the Bay Gables house can be moved at all, said Punit R. Shah, the president of Liberty Group, but he is exploring the possibilities.

"It's our goal to preserve the history of St. Petersburg," Shah said.

But carting away a historic structure far from its original site removes some of its worth, said Will Michaels, president of St. Petersburg Preservation Inc.

"Preserving these houses is important for the historic value, but also for the economic viability of the city," Michaels said. "If you move it out of downtown to a historic-house petting zoo, you lose the historic charm that people come here for."

Michaels said the homes' protected status, bestowed in 1994, requires the developer to provide compelling reasons to move or demolish them. He said that in the case of Bay Gables, if it can't be moved, perhaps the developer should work around it.

"If you can't relocate it," he said, "is there a way to build the hotel so the house can remain in place?"

Shah said his consultants are still evaluating Bay Gables and that he suggests moving the homes only as one option. He said he's open to donating the homes if someone else can provide a more appropriate downtown location.

"We're willing to discuss this with the neighborhood associations," he said. "Perhaps someone would find a use for these and we could consider relocating them locally."

If the parties can resolve the issues over the old homes, the rest of the project seems to be warmly received. With much discussion of new downtown hotels, a proposed four- or five-star accommodation would be welcomed because it would be in the downtown core, unlike a proposal defeated last year to put a hotel along Fifth Avenue N.

The new project, named Liberty Bayfront, would put about 200,000 square feet of mixed uses on a site of just over an acre. There would be almost 300 parking spaces in a four-level garage before the hotel tower would rise the remaining 18 stories. Shah said he is still in negotiation over which flag the hotel would carry, but plans are for an upscale affiliation.

"Not (just) any hotel will be successful downtown," Shah said. "It will take the right type of hotel with the right type of brand."

This project would be the first hotel in Pinellas County for Liberty, though the Tierra Verde-based company has built some condos here and has a Holiday Inn Express in Tampa. Liberty has several other hotels in Ohio, Georgia, Michigan, Indiana, Tennessee and even England. Shah said he has been searching for the right site close to home but has taken time to find it.

Partnering on the deal would be Dan Harvey, who owns the land. Last year, during the acrimonious debates over Tampa-based Fuel Group's proposed hotel on Fifth Avenue, Harvey offered his land as a compromise when neighbors said the Fuel project was too close to a residential area.

Shah said the Fuel Group controversy did not play into his decision to develop this project.

Liberty's process so far has been far more pleasant than the Fuel deal, the defeat of which is now the subject of a lawsuit against the city. Still, Michaels said the issue of historic homes won't go away.

"We're not opposed to development in the downtown area," he said. "It's vital to the economic health of the city. But it needs to be done in a balanced way."

Paul Swider can be reached at [email protected] or 892-2271.

[Last modified: May 17, 2008 04:35 AM]

http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/article510503.ece
 

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IF they can do it - it would be a fine generic box addition to St. PEte
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Downtown St. Petersburg hotel plans reviewed today
In print: Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The latest development: The Development Review Commission meets at 2 p.m. today in the Council Chambers at City Hall to consider a six-item agenda that includes the proposed Liberty Bayfront Hotel: Liberty Bayfront LLC is seeking approval of a site plan to build a 22-story mixed-use development that will include hotel rooms, commercial space and 288 structured parking spaces. Plans call for 252 hotel rooms, 24,729 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 7,800 square feet of conference and meeting space, and a five- level parking garage. Developers are also seeking a variance to airport zoning. The property is on the south side of Fourth Avenue NE between First Street N and Beach Drive NE. THE SKINNY: The site consists of three buildings. Two are designated historic landmarks: the 1912 Henry-Bryan House and the 1906 Bay Gables building, which houses the Chateau France restaurant.

[Last modified: Jul 01, 2008 05:37 PM]

http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/article654768.ece
 

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Didn't here anything about it yet. I tried checking the City's website for any news and, maybe it's just my computer, but it doesn't seem to load all the way.
 

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I'm trying to find more and, hopefully, better renders of this, but can't find much on either this or the developer itself. Maybe I need to do more detective work.

Didn't find a render, but found this.

St. Petersburg, Florida - The Liberty Group of Companies is pleased to announce the site plan approval for the Liberty Bayfront Hotel located in downtown St .Petersburg, Florida. The Development Review Commission voted unanimously 7-0 in favor of the planned mixed-use development. The Development plans include a 4-Star branded hotel, pedestrian-level restaurant and retail, and conference center along with 288 structured parking spaces.



"We have been fortunate to be involved with the community and City representatives from the initial stages of this project. Today marks a significant step in our progress and we are excited to move forward with the Liberty Bayfront Hotel project," said Punit R. Shah, President of the Liberty Group of Companies.



City Officials who did not want to be identified remarked, "This achievement is monumental for the Developer and the City of St. Petersburg. We look forward to the new project and thank Mr. Shah and the Liberty Group of Companies for their dedication to the City."
http://www.libertyg.com/aspnews/viewnews.asp?catID=1

EDIT 2: Same render as first post, but looks like the first one made the project look chunky.

 

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^Well the tower may look bad in the renderings we have but at least it appears to have good street interaction.
I'm in total agreement. Looks like the developer is interested in bringing some kind of restaurant with outdoor seating into the project according to the render.

I recieved a email from the Liberty Group this morning. Didn't get much info, but they did say they are in the process in finding locations for the existing structures at the moment. They're hoping everything is moved and the land is cleared for a Mid-2009 construction date, but with the economy and all, they're still optimistic with that.
 

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The Community Preservation Committee had a meeting today. The developers gave proposals of locations to put the Henry-Bryan House. Proposal #1 was 3160, 3166, and 3188 on 12th Avenue N. Proposal #2 was on the corner of 7th St. and 3rd Avenue S. And Proposal #3 was at 439 Delmar Terrace South. There's no information on whether anything was approved though.
 
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