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Neighborhood Report

Lofts poised to hit the market

Construction on the Victory Lofts is planned to start in late spring and last about a year. A big selling point: location.

By SUSAN THURSTON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 3, 2003


The brochure touts, "Location, location, location."

Walking distance from Channelside, the St. Pete Times Forum and the Florida Aquarium.

A short hop to downtown and the Convention Center.

Less than a mile from Ybor City.

The Victory Lofts aim to attract working professionals and others seeking urban living and high-tech amenities. They mark the first big push in years for downtown residential development and the largest loft project in the Channel District.

Developers announced in September plans for the 82-unit loft project on the northeast and southwest corners of 12th and Whiting streets.

Nearly four months later, they are ready to start selling.

Three-hundred people have already inquired, said Nick Pavonetti, director of capital solutions for Beck, which is developing the project with the Giunta Group.

"I think the city is ready for it," he said.

Developers plan to start taking reservations within two weeks. For the first time, prospective buyers can stake their claim through the project's Web site at www.victorylofts.com.

Units range from $140,000 for an 800-square-foot loft to $850,000 for a penthouse unit with views of downtown and the port. Each requires a deposit, which as of Monday had not been set.

The project involves converting an existing warehouse into 24 units and 6,100 square feet of commercial space. Built in 1925, the building used to store automobiles and, more recently, county records.

Developers dub it the Model T building.

Catty-corner from there, a seven-story building will go up with two floors of parking, a fitness center and a party room with rooftop garden. Units in the Victory building will range from small, one-bathroom flats to large penthouses with 20-foot ceilings and mezzanines.

Construction is set to start in late spring and take about a year, Pavonetti said. Units will have stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, with options for brick walls and wood floors. All have open layouts.

To accommodate the cyber crowd, condos will come with wireless Internet service that allows users to log in from any unit.

The project marks the first of its kind for the developers. Beck built the USAA building in New Tampa and several area high schools but never a loft project. Before coming up with the design, planners toured Houston and other big cities with similar projects, Pavonetti said.

Developers are buying the land from the city of Tampa, which took it over from the Tampa-Hillsborough Action Plan, a nonprofit that provides housing and medical services to low-income residents. THAP bought the warehouse from Hillsborough County in 2000 and the other lot in 2001.

The city solicited bids to develop the property for residential use and chose Giunta's. The City Council approved the $1.9-million deal in September.

The developers also plan to submit a proposal to turn 7.5 acres of city land off Twiggs Street near Union Station into a residential complex, Pavonetti said. Neighborhood leaders have said they hope it includes a grocery store.

Proposals are due Feb. 7.

Up the street from the Victory Lofts, construction is under way on about two dozen lofts by architect Marica McKeel. The Channelside 212 Lofts sold for $155,000 to $315,000.

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

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