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City Council gives go-ahead to tallest building in St. Pete

Margie Manning

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An aerial view facing south of 400 Central

One of the most talked-about development proposals in St. Petersburg cleared the City Council Thursday with very little discussion.

City Council members, meeting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, unanimously approved the Cats Red Apple St. Pete project for the 400 block of Central Avenue downtown. The presentation, discussion and vote took only 20 minutes and generated no public comment.

It’s the final step with the city required for the initial approval process, a spokesman for the developer said. The next step is to file foundation plans. No date for a groundbreaking has been set.

The $300 million development includes a 45-story building with 300 market-rate condominiums and a 20-story building with 225 hotel rooms. The project also will have 15,000 square feet of meeting space, 20,000 square feet office space and 25,000 square feet of commercial space. A garage will have about 842 parking spaces.

It’s being developed by New York City-based Red Apple Group and designed by Florida-based architectural firm Arquitectonica. The site previously was occupied by the Phiel Hotel and the Central National Bank Building, both of which were demolished in 2016.

“This is something else, considering what it was just a few short years ago, one of the largest, most dilapidated buildings on this spot. We’ve come a long way,” said Council member Darden Rice.

Noting that it would the tallest building in St. Petersburg and in Pinellas County, “It’s going exactly where we’ve zoned the biggest, most intense developments to go,” Rice said. “I’m really glad to see first floor retail. That’s really important for the connectedness and walkability of the city. I’m glad to see there’s not any dead spots.”

A clock that was part of the former bank is still standing at the northwest corner of the property. It will be relocated within the new development, city planners said.

The St. Petersburg Development Review Commission approved the project last month.

400 Central

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The view along Central Avenue

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