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Coquina Key Plaza redevelopment project moves forward

Veronica Brezina

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

The redevelopment of the battered Coquina Key Shopping Plaza is one step closer to reality. 

In a four-to-one vote Tuesday evening, with commission member Valarie Nussbaum-Harris casting the sole “no” vote, the City Community Planning and Preservation Commission approved recommending that the city council should approve the development agreement with Stoneweg US, which plans to revitalize the shopping strip at 4350 6th St. S. into a mixed-use destination with housing and a potential grocer. 

Stoneweg, a St. Petersburg real estate investment company that purchased the 110,500-square-foot shopping center for over $7 million, is proposing to build 458 residential units with workforce housing, 21,000 square feet of retail space and new amenities. 

The site is situated between Lake Maggiore and the bay, providing scenic views, on the edge of the St. Petersburg city limits.

The Coquina Key Plaza sign. File photo.

While the developer is planning to breathe new life into the site, there has been controversy from the surrounding neighborhood concerning the height of the new buildings, the density, and claims that there isn’t adequate space for a large enough grocer to serve what’s been labeled a food desert. 

“We understand the desire from the neighborhood to have a large grocer. Stoneweg has reached out to 15 chain grocers, but there hasn’t been interest for a full-size grocery store; however, there’s is still room for a smaller grocer,” said Kyle Parks, spokesperson for Stoneweg and principal of B2 Communications. “The shopping center is a blight on the community, and Stoneweg wants to bring in high-quality retailers to help elevate this part of the city.” 

Stoneweg is currently in conversations with several market-size smaller grocers, a coffee shop, specialty food stores and a fitness studio, Denise Kelly, a development manager with Stoneweg, said during the meeting. 

Winn-Dixie once expressed interest in potentially occupying the site, but the plans never materialized. 

“Sometimes you need to rethink what a grocery store is, and the smaller retail spaces are more sustainable in terms of their rent and overhead expenses, and many times, are owned by residents,” CPPC Vice Chair Lisa Wannemacher said, referencing how niche grocers such as Trader Joe’s and Aldi can operate in tight footprints that are 12,500 square feet or smaller.

The free-standing retail portion of this project would bring in roughly eight businesses and will include dedicated parking, outdoor seating areas and a large park on the southwest corner of the site.   

The developer would reserve 20% of the multifamily units for residents earning 80-120% of the area’s median income (AMI). The exact unit mix of the project still needs to be confirmed. 

Although the development is approved to reach 150 feet in height, Stoneweg plans to not reach that limit and said the multifamily buildings will not be “staring down the nearby residents” as it would be built in the heart of the site – and there would also be a buffer. 

“We applaud the mixed-income strategy the developers have proposed for housing. The strongest neighborhoods are ones that house families with diverse income levels. This project embraces this best practice in urban planning. And it is the right scale for our neighborhood on 4th Street as a major transit corridor,” St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership CEO Jason Mathis wrote in a letter of support to the CPPC, stating he wrote the letter in his capacity as a resident of the neighboring Bahama Shores suburb. 

“The additional market rate and workforce housing [units] at this site will attract retail investment in South St. Pete including at the Sunshine Skyway Plaza and Tangerine Plaza,” the letter continued, with Mathis stating he too hopes it will bring in a grocer. “No development can solve every challenge a community faces. But this development will go a long way to creating needed housing, offer new retail and create an environment that will attract additional services.”

Stoneweg is still in the design phase, bus does plan to include new amenities at the site such as a rooftop space on the taller structures, a clubhouse, a swimming pool and a bark park.

With the approval from the commission, the project will have its first reading Sept. 8 and a second reading Sept. 29. The project will also go before the St. Petersburg Development Review Commission. 

The developer is targeting to break ground on the retail structure this third or fourth quarter. The multifamily component is expected to break ground first in the first or second quarter of 2023. 

BDG Architects is the architect, Osborn Engineering is serving as the project civil engineer and Suffolk Construction is the general contractor.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Avatar

    patricia meyers

    August 10, 2022at3:36 pm

    This article is a one-side synopsis of what occurred at yesterday’s hearing. Why are there no quotes from irate locals, of whom outnumbered the Pros by a 10 to one margin, who are disgusted and angered by Stoneweg’s deceit and lack of concern for the community’s interest. This project is a travesty and the City needs to address our concerns. Are you listening Mayor Welch??

  2. Avatar

    Kathryn Rawson

    August 10, 2022at7:08 pm

    I agree with the previous two respondents. This article does not address the many concerns of residents who came out in the middle of the day to make their voices heard, only to be ignored. Why do I feel like this is a ‘done deal,’ without caring about current neighbors’ thoughts.

  3. Avatar

    Cherlyn F

    August 10, 2022at9:59 pm

    I agree with the previous comments. The hearing yesterday was a total waste of our time. No one heard our pleas on needing a grocery store. I just hope they keep their word now on only going 7 stories high, glad I have another route to travel home, so I don’t have to deal with the additional traffic that’s coming. Very disappointed.

  4. Avatar

    Robert Ellis

    August 11, 2022at7:46 am

    Disappointing to read this article, to say the least. As a neighbor who was unable to attend, it sounds like the discussion focused on the retail side and not the fact that this development is within the Coastal High Hazard Area and the location, specifically the intersection adjacent to the NE corner of the property already floods at every king high tide. What is the justification for approving the increased density in an area already experiencing sea level rise? What is the plan to mitigate the damage from repeated salt water intrusion into the stormwater and sewer infrastructure? Was that even discussed?

  5. Avatar

    Augustine Percoco

    August 11, 2022at9:17 am

    Great idea for many of our rentals that just increased our rent $300 a month Without any security!!!!

  6. Avatar

    Shirley Hayes

    August 11, 2022at9:37 am

    I see nothing in the article that solves any issues. What does ‘Affordable Housing’ mean. who does it include? ‘Regular people’ have been displaced and are being displaced. Affordable Housing usually include Nurses, Teachers and Police force workers. This is a flood zone, what about the draining system, will it support this? Will the sewer system support all this new construction?? Will the rents include those with Housing Vouchers?

  7. Avatar

    Wayne

    August 11, 2022at10:31 am

    We have owned and renovated our home in the Bayou Bonita neighborhood for 20 years that this property is near. This enhancement to this property ….that has been a woefully long term distressed property, rife with crime…can not come soon enough for me. Arguably, the existing property as it stands-has kept down property values in the St Petersburg southeastern Bay Area. I am eager to see this project take place!!

  8. Avatar

    Sebastian

    August 11, 2022at11:43 am

    Glad to see this move forward. Too bad, so sad for those who are against progress. Clearly grocery stores are not interested, so stop with the entitlement demands for one. Look at plus side.. no grocery store will equal less traffic 🤣

  9. Avatar

    Dr. Tia M Murphy

    August 11, 2022at11:56 am

    Where will the American veterans facility go?

  10. Avatar

    Nicole Caron

    August 11, 2022at2:37 pm

    As a former Coquina Key resident, I would like to correct the author of this piece: this is not “the edge of the St. Petersburg city limits”; Coquina Key Plaza is pretty solidly located in the eastern middle of the south side of the city. This plaza is in desperate need of renovation/development, and as many have indicated, a grocery store would be a boon to the area. It sounds as though, once again, the city is ignoring input from residents. In turn, please contact your city council member and share your feelings with them. The more people they hear from, the better.

  11. Avatar

    Ronald Hiemann

    August 11, 2022at2:48 pm

    Stoneweg only received approval for the zoning portion of this project. They will still have to obtain approval for the final site plan which will show all the details, as envisioned by the developer. This will then also have to address the parking issue. Currently, based on the available information, there will not be sufficient parking for the housing portion of this project.

  12. Avatar

    Charles Lamb

    August 11, 2022at2:49 pm

    When will council ever acknowledge our sewerage disposal is already overloaded.

    They still think our water supply is unlimited. It isn’t.

  13. Avatar

    Betty

    August 11, 2022at3:47 pm

    I have lived in this neighborhood for almost 50 years and have observed changes in the Coquina Key Plaza. I purchased my home because of the grocery store, pharmacy, bank, and other facilities that made it easier for me as I grew older. Well, I am older now and find it difficult to travel to 34th Street in order to shop for my household needs. The reason for the plaza’s decline was due to poor management and lack of repairs. I believe this neighborhood needs for the plaza to be restored to one similar to the original design, including a grocery store and pharmacy.

  14. Avatar

    Ronald Hiemann

    August 11, 2022at5:19 pm

    This is in reply to Sebastian’s post. The reason for why grocery stores are not interested in the site is, that almost all of them require a minimum of 40,000 square feet of space to operate their stores. Stoneweg reduced the originally proposed 100,00 SF of retail/commercial space down to 20,000 SF. No wonder grocery stores are not interested. Half or more of this 20,000 SF will be taken-up by the liquor store and the laundromat. There is little left after that.

  15. Avatar

    Jeffrey

    August 12, 2022at8:18 am

    Is changing commercial corridors into mostly new housing putting the cart before the horse? They said 20% will be reserved for business and AMENITIES. So probably what 10-15%? Is giving up commercial growth worth the low number of work force housing units?

  16. Avatar

    Cathy

    August 12, 2022at10:14 am

    I can’t wait to see it go. No developer can make any grocer move into a space. Grocery store margins are thin as there are more options like Walmart that did not exist 20 years ago. As for the food desert, the term was originally for people who had very low income, low access and transportation as in no car, to get the market. Think Jackson MS. Most people have car in this area. This just sound like the NIMBY crowd, not in my backyard. Get over it, because “Change Happens”.

  17. Avatar

    Paul

    August 12, 2022at2:38 pm

    Way to much housing has been added to South Saint Pete in the last few years. This addition will just exasperate over population and traffic issues. Aesthetics and quality of life does not matter to these companies. If this is considered progress then we’ve lost our way.

  18. Avatar

    Mary Carpenter

    August 12, 2022at4:55 pm

    This is a really great direction for this previous eyesore. The naysayers need to give it a rest.

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