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Developer considers Gateway Centre site

The central location attracts a proposed apartment complex as the Army also looks at the business park.

By ANNE LINDBERG

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 1, 2001


PINELLAS PARK -- An upscale apartment complex and the Army soon may call the Gateway Centre home.

Centex Development Co. has asked the city for permission to build a 300-unit apartment complex at Grand Avenue and 28th Street N. The 22.3-acre site is part of the Gateway Centre Business Park.

The issue is scheduled to come before the Pinellas Park Planning and Zoning Commission on May 3. The City Council would take a look in June.

The project will be similar to the Coves of Brighton Bay, which Centex is building nearby, said Bob Sebesta of Centex Development. The Coves' first 382 units are renting for $690 to $1,250 per month.

The idea of building multifamily housing within a business development is becoming more popular across the county, Sebesta said. The Carillon center next door has a mixed business and residential use, he said, and people have taken to the idea well.

Part of that is because people can live near their work. But for the Gateway area in northeast St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park, being in the middle of the county makes it easy to go anywhere in the Tampa Bay area, Sebesta said. The ease of travel is increased by I-275, which passes virtually next door to the development.

"It's just so convenient," Sebesta said. "It's just a great location."

The location also may prove convenient for the Army, which is searching for a place to build a National Guard Armory. Military eyes recently have lighted on 58 acres in the Gateway Centre because of its closeness to the St. Petersburg-Clearwater airport.

"This is part of some work we're doing with the county" to bring in an Army Reserve unit, said George Cretekos, an aide to U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young.

Talks with the military are preliminary, said Pinellas Park zoning director Tom Shevlin.

"They've been talking to us about doing that. But there's nothing actually proposed at this time," Shevlin said. "It's one of the sites they're looking at."

The idea of an upscale apartment community in Gateway Centre came as no surprise to Pinellas Park council member Rick Butler, who also is a Realtor. "They have high-end, very, very high-end stuff," Butler said of Centex. "That's going to be a nice one."

It makes sense, Butler said, to put such a project in that area to fill a "pent-up" demand for upscale living space in the area. "It wouldn't surprise me a bit if they put a gated community over there."

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