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City council OKs extension for hi-rise tower with ‘innovative’ solution to help housing affordability

Veronica Brezina

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A rendering of the project viewed from the corner of Central Avenue and 4th Street. City of St. Petersburg.

A developer’s plans to build a hi-rise that would offer a lower cost of living for residents are moving forward. 

On Thursday, the St. Pete City Council unanimously approved a six-month extension for developer Dustin DeNunzio of the Boston-based DeNunzio Group LLC to submit documents and a permit application to build the 29-story, mixed-use tower.

The tower would be built at 450 1st Ave. N., which is a parking lot for Christ United Methodist Church.  

A rendering of the tower from the perspective of heading east on Central Avenue. City of St. Petersburg.

The planned development would have 163 micro-units that start at 370 square feet to 690 square feet. The units would be priced at the current market rate; however, the tight square footage means the units would be at a lower cost, which would open their accessibility to many people who desire to live in the city. 

“We’re hoping it will provide the chance for workers and people around the city and bartenders and everybody else who’s been pushed out a little bit to the fringe — because of pricing — to be able to remain in the heart of the city,” DeNunzio said during the meeting, adding how this concept is used in larger metros and how there are many high-end condos and rentals that are pricing people out. 

PLDD 1st Avenue LLC, an entity associated with the DeNunzio Group, bought the property in December 2019 for $5.3 million. The group has been working with the city on parking and other elements of the tower. 

A major component for the tower is the amount of Class A office space and the larger spaces for amenities. 

DeNunzio described the strategy to “bulk everything up” such as incorporating a large 7,000-square-foot gym and a 14,000-square-foot restaurant that would be a destination restaurant in the market. 

A rendering of DeNunzio’s development and where the parking will be located. City of St. Petersburg.

“We are going to make everything better and bigger, and we are going to hope that this attracts not only your top-quality hotel guests, your renters–we are gearing a lot of it towards first-class office space,” he said. 

The hi-rise would have 52,500 square feet of office space on three levels, which is significantly more than the 40,000 square feet required by the city for the project.  

It would also feature a 120-room boutique hotel, a salon and ground-floor retail space that would house a coffee shop and tapas bar. 

Parking would be available on levels two through eight with 264 parking spaces. 

The tower would also have green technologies to help moderate the temperature and humidity and make the spaces more energy-efficient. 

Councilmember Robert Blackmon said the project was “one of the most innovative projects” he has ever seen. 

A rendering of the tower viewed during the evening. City of St. Petersburg.

Councilmembers also acknowledged how the development would be located along the future bus rapid transit SunRunner line and could encourage tenants to rely less on their personal automobiles. 

The previous deadline DeNunzio had to provide the documents for the development was this December. The extension approved this week was needed due to the Covid-19 pandemic delaying the application process.

DeNunzio is working with 50 consultants on the project. 

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    JOHN DONOVAN

    October 23, 2021at3:49 pm

    More doors, with less sq ft per unit, achieves objective without artificial economic restraint. Well done.

  2. Avatar

    Shaquille Lashley

    October 24, 2021at10:59 am

    This is awesome! Love the Office Space sq footage, the design, and the innovation. People nowadays just want a place to lay their head. They don’t care about how big the units are living downtown.

  3. Avatar

    matthew weidner

    October 24, 2021at12:56 pm

    fantastic…the market wants more units and this opens doors! our city is more diverse and welcoming because of projects like
    this!

  4. Avatar

    steve sullivan

    December 3, 2021at2:44 pm

    matthew weider. The market wants more affordable units and expensive doesn’t equal diversity. Nor do small units. It equals the have and the have nots with whiter skin and more money who look down on those with less.

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