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193 more apartments to go condo

The rental market is about to get a little tighter with the sale of a west-side apartment complex that will soon go condo.

By PAUL SWIDER
Published June 4, 2006


ST. PETERSBURG - The rental market is about to get a little tighter with the sale of a west-side apartment complex that will soon go condo.

Fifth Avenue Apartments, at 5675 Fifth Ave. N, sold in the last two weeks for $16.5-million. The 193 units are still rentals, but the new owners, Vision 193, indicate that they intend to convert the newly renovated apartments to condos.

The building sold in 2004 for $6.8-million to Fifth Avenue Apartments Ltd., a South Florida investor group. Since then, the units were renovated to include new tile, carpet and cabinetry.

"They did well, but they spent a lot of money on it," said Jay Crotty, senior associate with Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Brokerage. "What was sold now was a far different asset."

Crotty sold the building in 2004 and brokered this new deal too. In both instances, the buyer was from South Florida, in this case Miguel Soto of Hialeah. Crotty said the South Florida influence reflects high real estate prices there, having driven investors into what was a cheaper Tampa Bay market. He said investors from California and New York are searching for better deals as well.

This sale is one of several in the past few years that saw apartments converted to condos. Crotty said the rental market is not going to disappear in St. Petersburg, but inexpensive rentals are dwindling.

"There is definitely a rental future because the condo conversion trend has slowed significantly, but rents across the board are going up."

Crotty said the conversion process in this case hasn't yet begun, so there are no prices available, but the complex sales price equates to about $85,000 per unit, most of which are one-bedroom.

The largest units have two bedrooms and two baths in about 1,500 square feet. The eight-building complex was built in 1969.

This sale also shows interest in western St. Petersburg, particularly around Tyrone Square Mall. The Sembler Co. just won approval to build townhomes at Ninth Avenue N and 66th Street.

"That's a very healthy market out there," Crotty said. "It's still relatively affordable."

Paul Swider can be reached at 892-2271 or pswider@sptimes.com.