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Mansion by the Bay will have to make way

Despite pleas, a tower will nudge out the old building.

Published May 6, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - Mansion by the Bay, one of the last historic buildings in downtown St. Petersburg, will be moved to another location to make room for the development of a 21-story, 28-unit condominium.

The Environmental Development Commission approved the project Wednesday, despite the impassioned protests of more than two dozen area residents and historic preservationists.

The EDC required developers to guarantee that the building would be preserved and moved, but the agency did not specify where that new location would be.

Don Mastry, an attorney for property owner Dan Harvey, said if anyone, including the city, wants the historic building and is willing to preserve it, the developer will pay up to $100, 000 of the moving costs.

The Queen Anne-style structure at 145 Fourth Ave. NE was built in 1905 as a private home for A.T. Blocker, who was the city's mayor from 1910 to 1911.

The home was expanded in 1918 and again in 1926 when it was converted into a clubhouse for the Shiners International Club. In the 1980s, it was used as a dance studio and, until recently, was used for weddings and other special events.

"The residence is of great significance at the local level, " said Corey Malyszka, a city planner. "It is the only historic building remaining on the block and one of the few remaining in what was once a residential neighborhood."

The proposed move drew protests from members of St. Petersburg Preservation Inc., who argued against redevelopment of the narrow property that is sandwiched between the Presbyterian Towers, a residential complex for the elderly, and the Townview condominium.

"The neighborhood will lose a significant part of its history, " said Will Michaels, president of the preservation group. "We are not objecting to growth and development, but all we are asking for is some balance."

That development also drew strong protests from residents who think the tower will block their light, create noise and dust during construction, and exacerbate parking problems.

"This building is going to be eyeball to eyeball with my apartment. I will have no sun, no view of the city, " said Patricia Beaver, a Presbyterian Towers resident.

Presbyterian Towers manager Joan Petersen said: "Our residents are over 62 years old. They can't just pack up their toys and move somewhere else. They cannot afford multimillion condos."

Only two of seven EDC commissioners - Valarie Nussbaum and Sharon Heal-Eichler - voted against the project, questioning whether it had adequate parking and enough space between adjacent buildings.

The condo tower, named "Mansion on the Bay, " will sit on a four-story base that will include ground-level retail stores, a parking structure and two-story residential lofts.

That will be topped by 11 floors containing 22 residential units, topped in turn by three penthouses with 360-degree views of the city and bay. An amenity level above the parking structure will include terraces, pools and landscaping.

In other action:

The EDC also unanimously approved a site plan for a 27-story, 204, 700-square-foot, ultra-modern office building. Triann Tower is to rise at the southeast corner of Fourth Street and First Avenue S.

The commission also unanimously approved a special exception and related site plan for a Home Depot at 3000 34th St. S. The site is currently occupied by the Suncoast Resort, which will be torn down.

[Last modified May 5, 2007, 18:25:41]

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