EDC approves Snell Isle plans

A 14-story tower with 68 condos, a new retail building and 53 refurbished boat slips are part of the project.

Published September 10, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - Plans for a $30-million, Mediterranean revival-style, 14-story mixed use project on Snell Isle sailed through the Environmental Development Commission on Wednesday, garnering praise from city officials and residents.

"We know developmentwise this is going to be a major change on our island for the residents," said Barbara McCormick Heck, president of the Snell Isle Property Owners Association. "We are very excited about the project. It will be a wonderful new jewel on Snell Isle."

Heck praised the developers for working closely with the homeowners association to accommodate its concerns, particularly in retaining the popular Mickey's Market and the SunTrust Bank.

Both businesses are in an older shopping center that will be demolished as the project goes forward. The new commercial building will be built first, allowing the two businesses to remain open during construction.

The City Council rezoned the property at 1355 Snell Isle Blvd. last year to also allow residential units. Only commercial and office uses had been permitted.

The current two-story retail and office building includes a bank, a 53-slip marina, dockmaster's building and carwash.

When completed, the 5.21-acre site will look remarkably different. A much smaller retail building (7,250 square feet) is planned on the site's northern end, closest to the bridge, as well as a new marina building with 53 refurbished boat slips along the water to the southeast. A condo tower, with units starting at about $1.1-million, will rise from the center of the property.

A sales office for the residential tower will open early next year, said Carole Yepes, who represents the Belleair Development Group. Construction will begin once enough units are presold. It will take about two years to complete the project.

The tower will include 68 condos of 2,500 to 5,300 square feet. The first two floors will provide parking, including some private garages. Amenities will include a club room, catering kitchen, swimming pool, spa and gym.

Each residence will fill the entire width of the building and have balconies facing both east and west. The tower will be topped with four penthouse units. All units will be accessible by both private and service elevators.

The marina will continue to be operated by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. Fourteen of the slips will be owned by the condo association.

All the buildings will be connected by pedestrian pathways. Residents will be able to walk to the marina, the bank and neighborhood shops, "fostering a pedestrian-friendly and convenient environment," said John Hixenbaugh, a city zoning official.

"The project is consistent with the type of redevelopment desired within the city," Hixenbaugh said, adding that it has "the appearance of a planned development" with its extensive open space, landscaping and unified architectural theme.

Two shorter condo towers were previously planned. The approved single tower will rise about 169 feet, about 50 feet taller than the adjacent Brightwater Towers.

"It's going to be a much prettier project, a great improvement," said EDC member William Klein.

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In other action, the EDC approved a special exception and site plan for a child care center at Lakewood United Church of Christ, 2601 54th Ave. S.

The EDC originally considered the redesigned project in August but delayed its decision when area residents complained about the placement of the child care center on the site.

The new plans place the center at the southern portion of the site, where playground noise will be better buffered from surrounding homes.