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Developer plans 274 downtown apartments

Located near the USF campus, the luxury units would cater to higher-income renters.

By SHARON BOND

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Two blocks of downtown property near the Bayfront Center are under contract to an Orlando developer who plans to build two five-story buildings of luxury rental units.

"We have been looking at downtown St. Petersburg for a number of years," said Greg West, development manager for ZOM Development Inc.

One block is bounded by First and Second streets S and Fourth Avenue S and Delmar Terrace. The second block is bounded by Second and Third streets S and Fourth Avenue S and Delmar Terrace.

ZOM plans buildings with ground floors of parking and four stories of apartments with 137 units in each building. The buildings will have one- and two-bedroom apartments and townhouses with three bedrooms. Rent would range from $900 to $1,800 a month.

The complete project would be worth approximately $30-million, West said. He would not disclose how much ZOM agreed to pay for the downtown property or who the sellers were. He said it would take nine months to a year before construction starts.

Each building would wrap around the perimeter of its block, West said, with the center area devoted to swimming pool and courtyard. The exterior look of the buildings has not been decided.

"We are targeting renters who have family income of more than $100,000," said West. "That is what we do. We build in many different markets, but we are building for the same profile person."

West said the project's proximity to the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus was not a factor in the planning.

"We would be glad to rent to students, but typically student rent is a little bit lower price point," West said.

The USF-St. Petersburg campus is expanding to a four-year university. Classes were limited to juniors, seniors and graduate students until this year. One concession to win expansion was that USF had to agree not to build dormitories. Nearby Eckerd College, a private four-year institution, feared losing students if USF built dorms. But as more freshmen and sophomores enroll, housing will be needed, which the private sector could provide.

West said it took a year of research and working to get contracts with five sellers for all the parcels needed for the project. The last was signed Friday.

ZOM, which has been in business for 25 years, has no existing projects in St. Petersburg but built the 360-unit Bayside Arbors in Clearwater, which opened in 1994. Its three Tampa projects are: the Arbors at Fletcher Island in Temple Terrace, 352 units; the Hamptons at Tampa Palms, 315 units; and the Arbors at Branch Creek, 390 units. Two others are under construction: Madison at SoHo near Hyde Park Village and Arbors at Carrollwood.

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