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Developer shifts gears for downtown St. Pete tower

Margie Manning

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Rendering: 400 Central, from Red Apple Real Estate

The company developing a mixed-use project at 400 Central Ave. in downtown St. Petersburg has updated its plans.

Red Apple Real Estate will double the square footage of available office space to 45,000 square feet, said John Catsimatidis, chairman and CEO. The company also will add two additional floors of non-residential parking and expand ground-floor retail space, all changes that are important to the economic development of downtown, Catsimatidis said.

Red Apple is holding off on a planned hotel that was slated to be part of the project, although it will keep that option open, he said.

Construction is expected to start this year, he said.

The $300 million development has been one of the most talked-about projects downtown, because its 45-story condo tower will be the tallest structure in St. Petersburg.

New York-based Red Apple unveiled plans for 400 Central two years ago. At first, the company said the project would include luxury condominiums and a hotel. It later added office space, retail shops and restaurants. The St. Petersburg City Council, meeting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, unanimously approved the project in January 2020.

Additional office space is a key need in St. Pete. More office space helps the city attract new companies and allows existing companies to expand and add jobs. Currently, there is little space available for those new and expanding businesses, according to Alan DeLisle, city development administrator.

At the same time, hotels have had rooms go unused as the Covid-19 pandemic cut business and leisure travel as well as events. Catsimatidis said the decision to put plans for a hotel component on hold was part of an analysis of market conditions.

In a statement, Catsimatidis said the updated plans will improve the project.

“We are steadfast believers in downtown St. Petersburg, and we are excited to be moving ahead with the project,” Catsimatidis said.

He also said Red Apple plans to open a residential condominium sales gallery at 465 Central Avenue soon.

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