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Townhomes get better reception

Plans for upscale, Mediterranean-style townhouses so far don't have the stormy opposition that doomed a proposal to build 27 condos on Davis Islands.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 22, 2002


A group of investors has resurrected plans to build condominiums behind Apex Park on Davis Islands.

This time, they hope people don't object.

Less than two months ago, community opposition doomed a proposal to build 27 condos near the intersection of East and West Davis boulevards. Residents said the project was too tall, too dense and too obtrusive for the island community.

The developers pulled out in January and sold the land a few weeks later to Davis Island Partners. LIST Realty is developing the project and selling the units.

Martin Lum, the real estate agent in charge, said plans call for 12 to 14 upscale, Mediterranean-style townhouses with entrances along the street and private garages in a gated, interior courtyard. Though still in the planning stages, the units won't be cheap, he said.

The land at the corner of Bosphorus Avenue is zoned for up to 16 townhouses. The previous developer sought to build 27 on that site and two adjacent, residential lots, raising the ire of people who didn't want the lots rezoned.

The new proposal focuses only on the corner lot. It does not require a rezoning.

Lum said the developer may seek a variance from the city to build decorative towers that exceed the island's height limits. The towers would blend with others in the area and create a 1920s Great Gatsby feel, he said.

Over the last few weeks, Lum has met with some residents to go over preliminary plans and seek input. So far, people have been receptive.

"I really liked what I saw," said Janice Davis-Petrik, a six-year resident who opposed the original project. "Aesthetically, it fits with Davis Islands."

Davis-Petrik was among about 150 people who attended community meetings to voice their displeasure. They argued the multistory condos would cast shadows over homes and create more traffic. They vowed to fight to the end.

Vincent Palori, president of the Davis Islands Civic Association, said townhouses seemed the most logical use, based on the site's zoning. The group reluctantly supported the previous project, but hopes this one will be more palatable to more people.

"I'm sure they will do a nice job," he said. "It's the only use for the property. It can't be commercial."

Palori said he preferred to set aside the land for Apex Park, but understands that the city can't afford that. He expects new townhomes will sell quickly.

"Davis Islands is a very, very desirable place right now," Palori said.

- Susan Thurston can be reached at 226-3394 or thurston@sptimes.com.

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