We’re asking thought leaders, business people and creatives to talk about 2022 and give us catalyzing ideas for making St. Pete a better place to live. What should our city look like? What are their hopes, their plans, their problem-solving ideas? This is Catalyze 2022.
When new leases are being inked and commercial spaces are hitting the market in downtown St. Pete, Feldman Equities is usually the commercial real estate firm behind it.
The firm, which also has office properties in Tampa, owns buildings in St. Pete including the First Central Tower, the Castille at Carillon and the Morgan Stanley Tower.
Mack Feldman, son of Feldman Equities President and CEO Larry Feldman, serves as the vice president of asset management overseeing Feldman Equities’ office portfolio on everything from leasing and property management to construction.
Feldman actively studies the market and says this past year has accelerated growth for the city, but with such growth comes challenges.
“The news of Cathie Wood relocating her company, ARK Invest, from New York to St. Petersburg is arguably the most important business news of the year. Local investors tell a story to clients of how businesses relocate from the Northeast to Tampa Bay for the lower cost of living and tax benefits. Now, you have this big, shiny nationally known name uprooting their company to St. Pete. This news was covered across national journals,” Feldman said.
“Wood moved from an area surrounded by amenities and she selected to move into a St. Pete building that was built in 1992. We don’t have the new office buildings like Tampa does, but we have the walkable streets, restaurants and authenticity that can only be found here.”
While more commercial developments are underway with mixed-use projects such as Orange Station, it may not be enough to fulfill the constant demand of needed office supply in a market that hovers around a tight 4% vacancy rate.
“I’m hoping the new city council and the mayor can work together and tackle these big issues for commercial office space,” Feldman said, adding how many investors are scooping up commercial properties to diversify their portfolio or build new second- or third-generation spaces, and there could be regulation to address the overall needs.
Feldman is also a board member of YIMBY St. Pete, which is an organization that promotes the use of incentives for the private sector to create more housing opportunities.
“I think the housing crisis will continue to worsen and the office market will tighten,” Feldman said. “I don’t see how we can build enough housing year-over-year to meet the demand.”
Feldman said one solution is city-wide rezoning that allows multifamily anywhere in the city given certain limits, which would allow flexibility to add more density while not jeopardizing the unique character of neighborhoods.
As far as projects to watch, Feldman said the Salt Creek development and the Skyway Marina District are two areas worth watching.
“The additional housing in these developments will create major density and we are going to see more movement there,” he said.
Multiple apartment complexes are taking shape in the Skyway Marina District along with major plans from a developer to build 1,500 residential units.
Although the city will have to grapple with its growing pains, Feldman said he is especially looking forward to more transit options for the area.
“Transit to me is very viable. We are getting our first bus rapid transit line [the SunRunner] and there are other initiatives worthwhile,” he said. “Hopefully our transit systems can connect into larger systems down the road.”