DevMar, the Michigan company planning an apartment building in the EDGE District, is scheduled to talk about the project next week with the EDGE Business District Association.
That conversation could be the tipping point the St. Petersburg City Council wants to see occur, before the council votes on The Metro, a $9.5 million, seven-story, 100-unit studio apartment building proposed for what vacant land at 1st Avenue and 11th Street North.
The City Council, meeting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, last week voted to defer approval of the project until April 1.
A city staff report had recommended approval. The staff report said the project was consistent with the Intown West Redevelopment Plan, which is designed to capitalize on the opportunities generated by Tropicana Field. That was the only criteria council members were asked to review, but some council members said there should be more community input.
Baum Avenue concerns
DevMar, a Birmingham, Michigan-based real estate development firm, originally proposed building a boutique hotel on the site, but revised its plans after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Metro will have 798 square feet of commercial retail space along 1st Avenue North on the main floor, along with amenities such as a pool and deck area and an outdoor kitchen. Because the apartments will be studios, the building is not required to provide parking, but there will be full valet parking service for residents and guests at the main apartment building entry. It will include wider sidewalks along Baum Avenue, which is on the southern edge of the project, and an art mural visible from Baum, said Jennifer Bryla, a city zoning official.
The design of the project meets all requirements and is designed to be pedestrian-friendly, Jim Pappas, project architect, said at the City Council meeting.
But Preserve the ‘Burg said more communication is needed to ensure the project fits with plans to make Baum Avenue pedestrian-friendly.
“We join the EDGE District in its excitement for a re-imagined and re-activated Baum Avenue and encourage the DevMar Metro developer in making that possible,” Robin Reed, speaking for Preserve the ‘Burg, said at the City Council meeting.
Key concerns for the EDGE Business District Association are measures consistent with Baum Avenue Beautification Plans, which arise from the EDGE District Improvement Plan, Barbara Voglewede, executive director and Main Street manager for the EDGE Business District Association, said in an email to St. Pete Catalyst.
“For this development proposal, among other things that means including public-interfacing elements on the Baum Avenue side to activate that side (via retail or other public amenities), and enhancing the pedestrian experience on that side (via landscaping, lighting, art or other visible design elements facing pedestrians),” Voglewede said.
Mark DeMaria, CEO of DevMar, said he previously talked to the EDGE District when a hotel was being planned and reduced the planned retail component, as the District requested at the time.
Just days before the City Council meeting last week, DeMaria said he was contacted by Preserve the ‘Burg, asking him to talk with both organizations.
“This project is fully financed. We’re ready to submit permit drawings later this week. We intend to break ground in May. We have met strict adherence to all the requirements of the city,” DeMaria told the City Council. “We can’t afford to not have this project go at this point. We’re heavily invested in this. Financial commitments have been made. We’ll comply with landscape suggestions, but this matter should have been taken up months ago, prior to this approval.”
DeMaria told the Catalyst on Wednesday he would meet with the EDGE District next week.
DevMar also is the developer for Vantage Lofts, a recently opened apartment building at 1st Avenue and 16th Street North.