Fort Lauderdale-based real estate firm Alexander Goshen is proposing to lease the parking lot at 800 1st Avenue South and transform it into an affordable housing complex.
The group submitted a letter of intent in late May to the city after Tampa-based investment advisory firm Third Lake Partners made an unsolicited bid, offering $6 million to acquire a portion of the vacant parcel. TLP’s unsolicited bid triggered an open process for others to submit proposals.
Alexander Goshen is also a partner in a joint development team with the Dantes Partners firm that’s pursuing to acquire and redevelop St. Petersburg’s historic Tomlinson Adult Education Center.
“We offered the city a 99-year term [for Lot 3 of the 800 Block site], which is the same term we are proposing for the Tomlinson building. This lease creates more of a partnership where we hold each other accountable,” Alexander Goshen Principal Miles Alexander said to the St. Pete Catalyst. “The city will have control of the site, and if a developer does not complete what they intended to do, the city can take that property back.”
By entering into a lease agreement, Alexander said the group would not have an upfront cost burden for the affordable housing project, as opposed to a traditional property purchase.
The group also plans to build affordable housing at the Tomlinson site, although that housing would specifically target teachers.
Per the letter Alexander shared with the Catalyst, the firm would pay the city $75,375 annually, or $376,875, for the first five years of the long-term lease as the lease terms may be adjusted.
The letter doesn’t detail the number of housing units the group would construct; however, Alexander said it hinges on negotiations with the city and the number may be close to 200 units – a similar count the firm is planning to build at the Tomlinson property.
The team would set aside 50% of the workforce housing units for residents earning 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or below. Alexander said the remaining half of the units would be reserved for those earning 80-120% of the AMI. The complex would also have a parking garage for residents.
“In addition to our commitment to affordable housing, our developments are community focused, rather than investor-focused and we pride ourselves on being long-term faces within the community,” Alexander’s letter read. “We know that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to every build. As such, we believe that the community’s voice should sit at the center of decision-making with respect to development and offer community listening and engagement as a core part of our development approach.”
Once the project is constructed, the group would refinance the construction loan.
In asking why the group is interested in this site, Alexander said he wants to be part of the city’s evolution and its business inclusion efforts.
“I genuinely love for the energy and vibe in St. Pete. I have met with other Black-owned contracting companies and the mayor. St. Pete reminds me of a truly diverse community where everybody gets along,” Alexander said, adding how the firm can leverage its experience in affordable housing developments to help underserved residents.
Affordable housing is a key component the mayoral administration has been focused on for unlocking the potential of the downtown site.
Feldman Equities, one of the largest commercial real estate stakeholders in St. Petersburg, partnering with Miami-based development firm Property Markets Group, wants to acquire just the city-owned parking lot portion for $8 million. The joint venture partners proposed a mixed-use development with over 100 affordable housing units.
Before the parties submitted bids for varying portions of the site, Moffitt Cancer Center and its partner, Atlanta-based developer TPA Group, previously offered the city $5 million for the entire property. Moffitt planned to build a 75,000-square-foot cancer center alongside a 30-story residential tower, a 14-story hotel development and a 300-space parking garage.
However, the lack of affordable housing and the low offer to acquire the site, valued at $24 million, resulted in St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch rejecting the proposal.