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City gives final nod to Coquina Key Plaza redevelopment

Veronica Brezina

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A rendering of the Coquina Key Plaza redevelopment. Image provided by Stoneweg and B2 Communications.

The controversial Coquina Key Plaza redevelopment, a project that will flip the shopping center into a mixed-use development, has received the final greenlight, despite objections from residents. 

During a Thursday evening meeting, city council ultimately passed two items: The request for an amendment to the official zoning map from Corridor Commercial Suburban-1 (CCS-1) to Corridor Commercial Traditional-1 (CCT-1), and an approval of an associated development agreement to allow for commercial retail uses and residential with workforce housing. 

Surrounding uses from the Coquina Key Plaza site. Image: City of St. Petersburg/Stoneweg.

Councilmember Lisset Hanewicz voted against the two items, and councilmember Deborah Figgs-Sanders was absent. 

The final votes come after a nearly three-hour deliberation and multiple meetings regarding the redevelopment spearheaded by Stoneweg US, a St. Petersburg real estate investment company. 

Stoneweg, which purchased the dilapidated 110,500-square-foot Coquina Key Shopping Plaza at 4350 6th St. S., plans to build a seven-story apartment building, with a maximum height of 77 feet, that would provide 465 units with at least 20% dedicated to workforce housing; a minimum of 20,000 square feet of retail; and secure a fresh food source – since the last grocery store shuttered, the community has become a food desert.

Stoneweg representatives said this does not change the future land use category in the comprehensive planning, and the zoning is compatible. 

Stoneweg’s attorney Craig Taraszki added that Stoneweg has a letter of intent (LOI) with a grocer to occupy the tight space. The representative stated the prospective tenant could not be disclosed publicly due to a confidentiality agreement. An LOI is not a legally binding document, but it does signify a strong intent to occupy the space, and the next step is to execute a lease. 

“We’re working toward and iterating those terms to get to the endpoint to sign a lease,” Taraszki said, “but we’re very confident that we can make it happen with either this tenant or another one.”

Stoneweg’s Coquina Key Plaza development agreement. Image: City of St. Petersburg/Stoneweg.

The potential grocer would lease roughly 5,500 square feet. For comparison, major grocers typically occupy spaces that are 40,000 square feet or larger. Stoneweg representatives said they’ve engaged with large and niche grocers, including Winn-Dixie and Aldi; however, the area’s population, level of income, traffic and other factors are deterrents for these types of grocers. 

“Six-point-one square miles in zip code 33705, which is my zip code, and there are no grocery stores within a mile of that zip code,” said Walter Borden, president of the Bahama Shores Neighborhood Association. He was one of the roughly two dozen in-person speakers last night pleading for the city to reject the plans based on numerous concerns primarily related to increased density and traffic, and the lack of allocated space for a prominent grocer and pharmacy. The city also received 90 emails from opposing residents. 

Borden asked the council to reject the rezoning plan and for the city to provide significant incentives to help the developers secure a sufficient grocery store and pharmacy. 

Council Chair Gina Driscoll said she was impressed by the effort made so far to attract a grocer and reminded the public that Stoneweg can’t force a store to sign a lease and the city can’t force the developer to have specific tenants. 

Stoneweg representatives also highlighted that they are not obligated to provide affordable housing units at the site, while a different developer could have pursued building all market rate units.  

“I think [approving this agreement] demonstrates our commitment to increase workforce housing in our city and makes sure that we’ve got fresh food options for everyone that’s reasonably efficient,” Driscoll said. 

One of the opponents highlighted information from a St. Pete Catalyst article regarding Stoneweg’s Lake Maggiore Apartments, a 330-unit, mixed-income apartment development for 6th Street South, for which Stoneweg had altered the number of affordable housing units.

Initially, Stoneweg planned to have 100 workforce units, but as the deal went through various iterations and the developer engaged with the city, the workforce units were reduced to 66. 

Coquina Key Plaza. GoogleMaps.

The council members acknowledged the public’s concerns and recalled how the center was once vibrant with activity during its glory days, before businesses exited. 

The developer will now apply for building permits and file a site plan for review. 

Construction work on the site is expected to commence next year. 

“Stoneweg US is pleased to have the city council’s support and excited to be one step closer to building a quality project that will provide much-needed workforce housing and retail to the surrounding neighborhood,” Kyle Parks, spokesperson for Stoneweg US, said in an emailed statement. 

Earlier this week, Stoneweg was awarded a Sustainable Leadership Award.  

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Scott Brahman

    October 28, 2022at3:28 pm

    That center was extremely vibrant back in 1980’s, at least as I recall. It had a Publix, great little pizza restaurant, Eckerd’s, among other things. Not sure what happened demographically, but hard to believe a grocer couldn’t make this site work given the population density in this area of south St. Pete. Grocer’s may also be discounting the more affluent folks who live in Bahama Shores, Colony Point, and the Pink Streets who would most definitely shop here.

  2. Avatar

    Tom Barry

    October 28, 2022at4:01 pm

    Greatly expanded the “food desert” in under-represented south St Pete

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