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Apartment complex wins EDC approval
By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 6, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- The summer doldrums ended at the Environmental Development Commission. The projects reviewed Wednesday are valued at more than $100-million -- including a $30-million luxury rental complex in downtown.
"This is an exciting day for us," said EDC Chairwoman Sharon Heal-Eichler as she pointed to a $47-million hotel and office project at the Carillon business park, a $2.5-million Central Plaza bus terminal, as well as an automotive service center and a city-operated drug treatment center.
City officials worked for more than a year with ZOM Development Inc. to help the company find a downtown site suitable for luxury rental apartments, according to planner John Hixenbaugh.
The 290-unit, two-building project, approved by the EDC, is on two city blocks between Fourth Avenue S and Delmar Terrace and First and Third streets. The properties are south of the Bayfront Hilton and north of the Carlton Towers. The Al Lang baseball complex and Bayfront Center are to the east.
The property originally was approved in 1998 for development of the Betty Jones Spa and retail complex -- a project that was abandoned. ZOM now has a contract to buy the land from Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star and Pinellas Point resident Gary Sheffield.
"Luxury and market-rate apartments are strongly desired as a complement to existing and planned high-end residential retail, restaurant and entertainment development in the downtown core," said Hixenbaugh, who added that the project will "help provide a built-in customer base for the city's substantial investment" in revitalizing the downtown area.
Orlando-based ZOM specializes in multifamily residential development and has built more than 10,000 units in Florida.
"We are very bullish on the Pinellas and Hillsborough market," said Greg West, ZOM's vice president of development. "There is no substantial luxury rental housing in downtown St. Petersburg and we feel there is an unmet need."
The complex is designed for an urban environment, with buildings extending to sidewalks and rising above structured interior parking. The buildings are configured in an "O" shape overlooking a central courtyard, which features a pool and deck.
The spaces will ranges from 600-square-foot one-bedroom efficiencies to luxury townhomes. Monthly rents will range from $700 to $2,000.
Each month the EDC meets to consider projects that require variances or site plan approval, or requests for alley or right of way easements. If the requests are not too far out of line with city codes, the EDC will recommend its approval to the City Council -- providing the developer includes substantial green space and other changes to improve the appearance of the project.
Among the other projects considered Wednesday:
SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT CENTER: The former Colonial Manor Nursing Home at 1735 Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) St. S is to be converted into a secure substance abuse center that will provide drug treatment, education and employment services for adults. The city bought the 2.7-acre property from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The EDC-approved site plan included interior repairs to the 200-bed facility as well as upgraded parking and landscaping. SE-00-029 (G-9).
CARLISLE FORD SERVICE CENTER: A 12,800-square-foot vehicle service center is planned at Carlisle Ford, 2525 34th St. N. The EDC approved a revised site plan that reduced the square footage and increased the amount of green space. The project includes 16 service bays, as well as new lighting and striping. SE-00-017 (J-14).
PSTA TERMINAL: The EDC approved a site plan for a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority terminal and transfer facility at 3201 First Ave. S. The circular facility will include a 1,565-square-foot building with space for ticket sales, waiting area and restrooms, as well as covered exterior waiting and boarding areas. When completed, the terminal will replace on-street bus stations along Central Avenue and is expected to provide easy public transport to the new YMCA planned for the south side of First Avenue S. SE-00-025 (SE-1465E) (J-2).
PUPPET THEATER: Master puppeteer Gordon Bennett plans to open a museum and theater at 1617 34th St. S to display his collection of marionettes and puppets and offer public performances. The EDC-approved project will provide a family-oriented entertainment center within the Childs Park Neighborhood and Enterprise Zone. Association president Gayle Sims described the project as a "wonderful needed service" to the area. SE-00-026 (K-9).
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