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Plans brew for 300 block of Beach Drive

The Beach Park Motor Inn may make way for a high-end hotel. Behind it condos, another hotel and stores are envisioned.

By SHARON L. BOND

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 12, 2001


The Beach Park Motor Inn may make way for a high-end hotel. Behind it condos, another hotel and stores are envisioned.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Plans are in the works for twin residential towers in the 400 block of Beach Drive. Luxury condominium buildings have been built in the 100 and 200 blocks of Beach. And at 80 Beach Drive, a Hampton Inn & Suites is planned.

So what about the 300 block, home of the Beach Park Motor Inn?

Much of the block behind the Beach Park is owned by Ian Irwin of Southeast Cos. and Dan Harvey of Harvey's 4th Street Grill. Irwin said late last year he plans a condominium building there. Those plans still are on.

The Beach Park, which faces Beach Drive, is owned by Jimmy Aviram, who also owns Maximo Marina and is in partnership with a Miami builder investigating whether a convention hotel is needed in another site downtown.

The Beach Park Motor Inn is a two-story motel that has 26 rooms and is one of the more basic inns in town.

Aviram said Tuesday he was negotiating with a "very high-end hotel chain to develop a nice boutique hotel" on the Beach Park site.

He would not identify the company.

"I'm not sure if it is going to happen or not. We are not in a rush," Aviram said.

Irwin said Tuesday that his condominium project in the 300 block is likely to get under way in the last half of next year. By that time the Southeast Cos. will be finished with the third of downtown's luxury condominiums, Vinoy Place.

Vinoy Place is being built next to the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, which is kitty-corner to the 400 block of Beach Drive where the newest project, the Villas at St. Petersburg, is planned. The Villas, which will have 200 upscale rental units and retail, restaurant and gallery space, still must be approved by the St. Petersburg City Council.

"I think that is just great," Irwin said of the Villas. "It's great what they are doing with retail on the bottom floors."

Irwin said his plans call for 116 condominiums that could range in size from 1,600 square feet "all the way out to 5,000 for the penthouse." He does not have prices now, though he said units in any kind of high-rise will be expensive whether they are called luxury or not.

The new condo project also will have a hotel element, Irwin said. He described it as something for the business traveler. The project will have about 3,000 square feet of retail space.

The recently announced Hampton Inn & Suites is aiming at leisure and business travelers, according to JMC Communities, which is building the four-story, $8-million hotel where rooms will rent for $100 a night or so.

Irwin said his "hotel product probably will be a little more business traveler-oriented than that one," referring to the Hampton Inn & Suites.

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