Development Projects Booming in the 'Burg

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They say you can gauge the health of any metropolis' economy by the number of construction projects underway. After a dry spell, the demand to create space for living and working in downtown St. Petersburg looks to be higher than ever.

Johns Hopkins, which merged with All Children’s Hospital in 2011 is said to be putting a significant research and development center at the old All Children’s site--a move certain to be a game changer for the ‘Burg.

If word on the street of the Johns Hopkins expansion is true, it would create hundreds of high-end and mid-level jobs in downtown St. Pete and join the significant developments along the waterfront district including The Shops at St. Pete, the new St. Petersburg Pier, and an expansion at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

The residential side of things is also looking bright. When the economy first began to tank, so-called "experts" said that St. Pete was left with a seven year surplus of condos. In not even half that time, inventory, even the most expensive, is nearly non-existent.

The latest is a new 250 to 350-unit luxury apartment development at 700 1st Avenue South that should be presented to the city in the next 90 days. The units are said to cater specifically to jobs that will be created by the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and All Children's Johns Hopkins.

Seven other developmental projects, two hotels and five residential, are either under way or have been given the green light for future ground breaking. Six of the seven are brand new buildings, which will release over 1,400 units to the market by early or mid 2014.

Birchwood Inn Rendering. Image 
The one renovation is occurring at Birchwood Inn, a 5-story building that sits across from North Straub Park. Located on Beach Drive, one of the Bay's most happening corridors, the five story boutique hotel will have 18 rooms with pristine views of the bay, pier and the downtown skyline. The project should be completed this year.

Just south of the I-175 exit ramp near MLK, the Staybridge Hotel's frame is already up. The five story building will have 120 hotel rooms when completed.

Southwest view of Bayway Apartments. Image 
At the lot northwest of The Shops at St. Pete and Muvico will sit the new Bayway Lofts, an eight story, 309-unit luxury apartment building that is currently under construction.

The other four residential buildings will straddle 4th Avenue South.

Osprey Properties will begin construction on the northeast corner of 3rd Street where an empty lot currently sits. The 18-story building will boast 357 apartment units and will significantly transform our downtown skyline.

A five story apartment building is planned for the southwest corner of the same street, another empty lot, that will add 125 family units. The construction documents have been submitted to the city, and permit approval is still pending.

Further west in the current Tampa Bay Times parking lot, the 4th Avenue South Residences will take up an entire city block. The four story building will house 325 units. Permit approval is also pending.

Campbell Landings.
The last of the 4th Avenue South buildings is Campbell Landings, a five story, 96-unit building similar to St. Pete's current City Place Apartments. It will offer affordable living options to the 55+ crowd and has already started construction on the northwest corner of 6th Street.

This demand is also spreading to neighborhoods surrounding downtown.

“Every time we find something, it ends up getting multiple bids," says Jim Steiner who recently relocated to the area from DC with his partner and recent Top Chef contestant Jeffrey Jew. They're looking in the Old Northeast. His statement echoes the sentiments of 2006 and 2007 when St. Pete began to boom just before the stock market dropped.

Steiner moved to St. Pete to take an executive position with C1 Bank, which employs over 200 people in the Bay area and recently moved into a new, high-tech headquarters downtown.

C1 Bank CEO, Trevor Burgess, says he picked the market because he’s looking to attract the absolute best-knowledge workers locally and from across the country. “We chose downtown St. Petersburg for C1 Bank's corporate headquarters because it's a community that's focused on arts, entertainment and quality of life," says Trevor, "With our investment in a state-of-the-art downtown headquarters, I know we will become the employer of choice-- A place where the best of the best want to come and work."

Add that to an already booming nightlife, restaurant, art and museum scene that brings folks from all around Tampa Bay to downtown, alongside the new Pier and the new Shops at St. Pete projects, and we may be referring to St. Pete as Florida’s “mini-Manahattan” in the not too distant future.

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