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Building a skyline

Downtown will be covered with projects as developers scramble to create a piece of the city's evolving identity.

By SHARON L. BOND
Published April 17, 2005


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Interactive graphic:
It's not New York or Chicago, but St. Petersburg, with condominium towers sprouting all along the waterfront is developing the silhouette of a cosmopolitan skyline.

ST. PETERSBURG - The tall buildings keep coming.

Condominium towers, such as Parkshore Plaza which is under construction, and the Peninsula, in the planning stages, are competing in height with the Bank of America tower - long the city's tallest building.

Other towers, though not as tall, have replaced one- and two-story structures in a building frenzy that began in the mid 1990s.

Downtown St. Petersburg is getting a skyline.

"Where it becomes important ... is that it can be a signature," said Bob Jeffrey, the city's manager of urban design and historic preservation. It is a means of identity, he said.

"When they show the skylines of New York or San Francisco, we all know them," Jeffrey said.

A skyline comes with building height, unusual tops and ornamental extras, such as the 40-foot spire Progress Energy Florida plans for the top of a 233-foot high office tower it is building downtown.

An internationally known architect is contributing to St. Petersburg's skyline. Ralph Johnson of PerkinsWill of Chicago said he had the skyline in mind when he designed the Peninsula, a mixed-use project near the waterfront. It will be a tall, thin and angular building of glass and concrete.

"That definitely factored into it, especially the profile from the water's edge. It is distinctive," Johnson said. A skyline is the "personality of the city."

St. Petersburg's personality is evolving, Johnson said.

Below are some major components of that personality, including the larger projects of new downtown construction.

1. VINOY PLACE

555 Fifth Ave.

Status: Completed.

Developer: Southeast Companies in St. Petersburg. Four towers, each 158 feet tall, located near the historic Renaissance Vinoy Resort hotel and overlooking Tampa Bay. The towers have 92 luxury condominiums. Fronting the towers on Fifth Avenue are 10 city homes.

2. 400 BEACH DRIVE

The 400 block of Beach Drive NE.

Status: Planning stage; units on sale.

Developer: Opus South Corp. in Tampa. A 316-foot tower will dominate this mixed-use complex that will have 91 units, most in the tower but some in the lower level buildings that surround it.

3. PARKSHORE PLAZA

The 300 block of Beach Drive NE.

Status: Under construction; units on sale.

Developer: Opus South Corp. The tower will rise 355 feet and have 20 stories and 119 units. Like 400 Beach Drive, Parkshore will be surrounded by lower buildings with retail at street level.

4. THE CLOISTERS

288 Beach Drive NE.

Status: Completed.

Developers: Bob Strickland, Bob Ulrich, Jack Bowman and Randy Wedding, all of St. Petersburg. A single tower with street level retail shops, the Cloisters rises 189 feet in 14 floors with 32 units. This was the first of the Beach Drive luxury condominium buildings.

5. AVIRAM-SEMBLER building

North half of the 100 block of Beach Drive NE.

Status: Early planning stage.

Developer: Sembler Co. and local developer Jimmy Aviram. The building will have less than 100 luxury units. Its height is undecided, but developers said they would build as high as the Federal Aviation Administration allows in the area, which is approximately 300 feet.

6. THE FLORENCIA

South half of the 100 block of Beach Drive NE.

Status: Completed.

Developer: JMC Communities of St. Petersburg. This was the second Beach Drive tower to open. It is 21 stories with 50 units and 210 feet high.

7. THE PENINSULA

100 First Ave. S.

Status: Planning stage.

Developer: Gulf Atlantic Real Estate Corp. of Tampa. The design for this thin, tall glass and concrete building is by internationally known PerkinsWill of Chicago. The tower will rise 366 feet in the air but is angled on its lot and designed to preserve views for nearby condo towers. The tower will be part of a complex that replaces Bayview Tower, the former Veterans' Administration building.

8. THE MADISON

Two city blocks bounded by First and Third streets S and Fourth Avenue and Delmar Terrace.

Status: Complete.

Developer: Zom Development Inc of Orlando. Built as luxury apartments, the Madison converted its 277 units to condominiums in the past two years. They filled in a scruffy area of the downtown and pulled condominium development south.

9. MCNULTY LOFTS

101 Second St. S.

Status: Under construction.

Developer: Echelon Development Co. Five stories of lofts are being built atop an existing seven-story garage. When the garage was built, it contained a foundation for the additional floors. The project sold out quickly, and resales are under way. It contains 85 units and is 165 feet high, including the garage. In September, residents will begin moving in.

10. TROPICANA BLOCK

Bounded by First and Second streets N and Central and First avenues.

Status: Planning stage.

Developer: Partnership of Jimmy Aviram and Miami builder Tibor Hollo. A mixed-use complex that would have two towers, one of them reaching 435 feet into the air with 200 to 250 condominiums, the other with retail space and a hotel with 150 to 250 rooms.

11. PROGRESS ENERGY FLORIDA complex

A site bounded by First Avenues N and Sunshine Lane and Second and Third streets.

Status: Planning stage.

Developers: Progress Energy Florida, Carter & Associates of Atlanta and the Kessler Group of Orlando. This project involves an office tower for Progress Energy Florida that will be 14 stories and 233 feet tall. On top of the building will be a 40-foot ornamental spire. Also in the complex will be a 27-story tower for a four-star Kessler Collection Grand Bohemian Hotel, condominiums and parking.

12. LOFTS AT WILLIAMS PARK

139 Third St. N.

Status: Planning stage.

Developer: Blackwood Development Corp. The project will feature a 15-story building and marks a move away from the waterfront for condominium planning and building. The building will rise 190 feet.

13. BAYWAY LOFTS

Third Avenue N between Second and Third streets.

Status: Planning stage.

Developer: Grady Pridgen. Pridgen announced this project in 2003 but has redesigned it to lower its height and add more units. Plans call for a 29-story tower that will have 350 units and rise 371 feet high.

14. FOURTH STREET LOFTS

Fourth Street N between Third and Fourth avenues.

Status: Planning stage.

Developer: Grady Pridgen. This is a smaller project than many of the downtown buildings. Plans call for 30 units in 12 stories. While 10 feet per story often is used as a measure of building height, this building will be taller because the lofts will have 21-foot ceilings.

15. W PLAZA

226 to 236 Fifth Ave. N.

Status: Planning stage with 50 percent sold out.

Developer: Walker Whitney construction company. It will be one tower with 45 units and 168 feet high.

[Last modified April 19, 2005, 18:32:21]


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