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City to study conditions of the aging MSC building

Veronica Brezina



The existing Municipal Services Center on the corner of Central Avenue and 4th Street N. in downtown St. Petersburg. GoogleMaps.

The City of St. Petersburg is planning to evaluate the conditions of the Municipal Services Center after halting plans to build a new center. 

The city council will review a contract agreement at the April 6 meeting regarding approval of a task order between the city and St. Petersburg-based Harvard Jolly Architects Inc. to study the current state of the MSC building, constructed between 1927 and 1929. The study would determine whether the critical building systems in the existing MSC could remain functional without significant repair and replacement costs for the next 10 years.

The MSC building, on the corner of Central Avenue and 4th Street N., is an 11-story structure that houses city offices such as billing and collections administration, code compliance assistance, construction services, economic and development services, finance, and real estate and property management. 

While major maintenance and repairs have continued over the past 28 years, the building has not had a major renovation since 1995, according to the city. The proposed new assessment study of the existing MSC would include a review of the existing Florida Building Code and Life Safety Codes to identify the renovation level and associated code requirements, such as conducting a structural condition survey of the building’s primary structural elements (including the parking garage), and the state of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

The decision to study the existing building comes a year after canceling to process move forward on an agreement with Tampa-based Third Lake Partners or any other parties to develop a new MSC.  

The city initially started evaluating plans for a new MSC in 2019 when it received an unsolicited offer from New York-based Property Markets Group to build a new MSC and apartment complex on the city-owned parcels on 2nd Avenue North and purchase the existing MSC. The unsolicited offer required the city to open the floor to other bidders. Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman ultimately selected the proposal from Third Lake Partners.

If the city were to have entered a contract with Third Lake Partners as previously discussed, Third Lake Partners would purchase the current MSC for $12.5 million and construct a new MSC at 429 2nd Ave. North, across from City Hall. Third Lake Partners would either keep the existing, deteriorating MSC building and renovate it to create Class B office space or demolish it and build an entirely new development.

Under the previous proposed agreement, the city would lease the existing MSC from Third Lake Partners until the completion of the new 120,000-square-foot-plus MSC. Third Lake Partners would also purchase city-owned property at 461 2nd Ave. N. to build the apartment complex.

While the city administration decided to not pursue a development agreement with Third Lake Partners, city documents read, “the planning for a new MSC could continue to be an option, with informed decision making based on a thorough evaluation and detailed report by facility experts.”

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  1. Avatar

    Alan DeLisle

    March 31, 2023at11:54 am

    Another huge mistake cancelling the original project. The deal will never be as good. Affordable housing, new functional office space for city workers and improved productivity, more class B office space in downtown, an excellent development team and a cost effective project with all the necessary protections all missed.

  2. Avatar

    steve sullivan

    March 31, 2023at12:47 pm

    Oh, you mean the development team that continues to ask for public funds to build 20% -30% affordable housing on city owned land that they are paying below market value for? We know you were a part of the previous administration and understand your loyalty to the cause but that was a raw deal and you know it. This same development team has twice already altered or pulled out of affordable housing projects.They can’t be trusted!!!!!!

  3. Avatar

    Alan DeLisle

    April 1, 2023at9:25 am

    Another example of not seeing the forest for the trees. Of course you can get a higher price for the land but then say goodbye to the affordable housing and office space. Successful public-private Partnership require negotiations based on solid economic development principles.

  4. Avatar

    steve sullivan

    April 1, 2023at2:59 pm

    Sorry, but you and other government decision makers use the same playbook and cater to these developers crying poor mouth. How about solid economic value for the public as your measure of success. Now you have to start thinking about things differently (outside of the box). Firstly, by retaining ownership of the land (land banking) you cut out the owner profit. Secondly, contract with the St. Petersburg Housing Authority’s Development Agency (NGO) to administer the preliminary design and development work (at cost). Third, solicit an RFP for build to suit. Hire a contractor. Fourth, hire a commercial management agency The Development Agency would follow standard mixed use, mixed income formula that you would use in the private sector. Fifth, the city could sell the building later to maximize market profit. And, I question whether any of you have the expertise to examnine a construction spread sheet and know what you are looking at in terms of numbers and costs. You are not really expertise in that area and how many times have you actually been given access to the internal documents of these companies? Never!!!!!

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