Big and tall to replace squat and yellow

Condo towers planned where the old Bond Hotel sits will now hold more three-bedrooms.

Published October 26, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - Plans for a condominium project at 400 Fourth St. N, site of the vacant Bond Hotel, have changed to allow more three-bedroom units when construction starts next year.

"I think the market is there for larger units," said developer Marc Harris of Granville Pacific Inc. of San Diego.

He will combine some one- and two-bedroom units to produce more three-bedroom homes. That will bring down the total number of units from 356 to 276, he said.

The project will have a four-story base, from which two towers will rise for a total of 28 stories, or 320 feet high from street level.

"From the 15th floor up will be combo units," Harris said.

The most expensive of the three-bedroom units will be priced in the low $900,000s. The least expensive are one-bedroom homes in the "low, low $200,000s," Harris said.

The project does not yet have a name. The city, which has given initial approval for it, considers the location a gateway to downtown.

"It is the gateway coming from the north," said John R. Hixenbaugh, zoning official for the city. "Fifth Avenue is the dividing line between the neighborhoods to the north and the central business district. Having a signature building there as a major gateway feature to downtown is appropriate."

Harris describes his building as urban lifestyle as opposed to resort lifestyle. He considers the condo towers on Beach Drive to be in the resort lifestyle category.

He is looking for a boutique grocery store to fill 20,000 square feet on the street level that will face Fourth Street N. Whole Foods was the name floating around for a while, but the developer said he was not dealing with that popular chain.

Whole Foods has several stores in Florida; the newest location for the west coast is in Sarasota. A spokeswoman for the company said that no other Florida locations were ready to be announced.

Harris said the space he has for a grocer is too small for Whole Foods.

"We are working with two of those type of boutique grocers," he said, declining to identify them other than to say he wanted one that concentrated on fresh foods and did not necessarily carry a lot of side items such as personal care products.

He expects that the store not only will cater to those living in the building but draw residents from the Old Northeast neighborhood. Work on the site should start in the first quarter of next year. The project will take two years to build.

"People in the Northeast need to go up to 38th Avenue or go over to Publix (downtown)," he said. "This would be closer."

George Rahdert, who represents the St. Petersburg Times in First Amendment issues, owns the Bond Hotel. He said he is selling to Granville Pacific but will retain the street level retail space.

"It's a good location for that. You can get on and off the interstate." That and the traffic on Fourth Street N should make the grocery appealing to the public.

"I thought it was the important part of doing the project there," Rahdert said. "It will provide the ultimate community."