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Downtown residential tower will proceed, DRC declares

Veronica Brezina



Rendering of The Atlantic Companies' proposed 35-story apartment tower. All images: Alfonso Architects.

The Development Review Commission has rejected an appeal challenging a previously-approved apartment tower for downtown St. Petersburg.

During a board meeting last week, the majority of the DRC members found that the proposed 35-story mixed-use building that would be developed next to the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement is within code, and meets the criteria in the streamline approval process. 

Bill Herrmann, a member of the Preserve The ‘Burg advocacy group who raised concerns on several other projects at the meeting, filed the initial appeal of the streamline approval process for a modification to a special exception and related site plan to construct the 348-unit building. 

Atlanta-based developer Atlantic Companies LLC is the group behind the future 375-foot-high apartment tower that would be built at 333 3rd Ave. N. and 355 4th St. N.

The property is on the same block that also houses Synovus Bank and the Expansive co-working office building. 

A rendering of The Atlantic Companies’ proposed 35-story apartment tower. 

Herrmann alleged the project was out of character for the site and its height significantly dwarfs the buildings in the area. He also contested against the project’s modified site plan and said while the DC-1 zoning promotes commercial development, DC-2 zoning aims to “tapper off” the high-rise projects. 

The site plan of the proposed project and relation to surrounding buildings. 

“The site plan was defined years ago when it [the site] was first unified,” city attorney Michael Dema said.

“This is why you are seeing modification of the site plan,” he continued, noting how the site plan must be reviewed in its entirety. “It’s a zero-sum game.”

Dema and others noted how site plans that govern two or more parcels under different ownership were reviewed in the past. Several examples include projects in the Gateway and Carillon neighborhoods. The members also mentioned Kolter’s Art House development at 200 Central Ave., which involved a modification to a previous site plan.  

Trenam Law land use attorney Don Mastry, representing the developer, argued against Herrmann’s claims. Mastry stated that the DC-2 zoning in the Central Business District and Intown Activity Center permits the highest intensity development. The zoning encourages residential development, which is non-existent on the block. 

The tower will encompass 2,203 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and a 277-space screened parking garage. 

Atlantic Companies is working with Tampa-based Alfonso Architects, designers of the Arts and Crafts museum. The base of the building will mimic the design of the museum. 

A rendering of the tower shown from a different perspective. 

The group is also working with civil engineering firm Kimley-Horn. 

The developer did not request any variances. The project was previously approved with a 4.5 FAR (floor area ratio), which Mastry said is below the maximum allowable FAR. 

One of the handful of public speakers said projects such as these are “changing the face of St. Petersburg,” and decried the “snowballing” effect.

Mastry said if the public opposes the ordinances on designated land uses for properties that fall within the Downtown District zoning areas, they should address the language in the ordinances; however, the DRC is not a legislative body, and therefore cannot change the current ordinances.  

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  1. Avatar

    Randy Weiner

    July 19, 2023at3:39 pm

    The new high rises add beauty and neighbors to our city. Many of us love the new developments in the downtown area. 3rd and 4th Avenues N are a hotspot for new residents and some of the most beautiful high rises in St Pete! As homeowners on 3rd Ave N, we are excited to see this growth and investment.

  2. Avatar


    July 19, 2023at2:31 pm

    We have no mass transit so traffic in downtown should be bad soon. Parking-forgetaboutit.

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    steve sullivan

    July 18, 2023at10:15 pm

    Bill, I agree with you 100%. Why does council not look to review the zoning. It’s like they have no vision of what they want St. Pete t look like and areaccepting the standards from the past. They could stop all of this if they paused any new applications and ask the administration to provide a vision in conjunction with a review. This is not the St. Pete we all loved. It’s still there but going away very quickly. At least we know who served on the commission while this happend. Their political career’s are done.

  4. Avatar

    Debi Mazor

    July 18, 2023at5:12 pm

    I have to agree with Bill. The building approved last week by the Design Review Commission is, as is clearly seen in the photo, a sore thumb in the middle of one of the remaining mid-rise downtown areas. It is hard to believe that the owner of the fabulous Arts & Crafts Museum, with its elegant curves and exterior would participate in the creation of such an eyesore on his lot. And it would not be legal were it not built on his lot. Seems like a pretty sneaky ploy to avoid height and density limits. As for the “highest and best use” zoning standard, the City still has the obligation to meet the design criteria, which allow it to fulfill the 2050 St Pete Vision Statement. If they won’t willl any qualified, disinterested parties please apply to fill the 2 current vacant positions if you are unhappy with the decisions our City is making.

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    Bill Herrmann

    July 18, 2023at3:59 pm

    Congratulations on a wonder PR post. “High rises are the best way to accommodate the demand to live in St Pete. Building density doesn’t create demand, the demand is already there or they wouldn’t be building. High rises take pressure off existing residents when more options are available. They contribute a lot of tax base and you don’t need a car if you live downtown.” Is outstanding hyperbole.

    Some facts- this project was not marketed as ‘workforce housing’. Workforce housing is the single greatest need in DTSP. Those who work in the restaurants and entry-level jobs cannot afford to live there, and cannot even afford the cost of parking. So this project does not meet demand.

    Please think back to your Marketing 101 class. Another high-end unit adds density and weakens St. Petersburg’s niche. People love DTSP because it is NOT Miami, Ft. Lauderdale or Tampa. As the City rushes to increase density so the tax base grows and developers make money, the very thing that put DTSP on the map is being erased.

    I would love to hear how “High rises take pressure off existing residents when more options are available.” Adding a 375′ tower- placing THE FIFTH LARGEST BUILDING in St Petersburg– into the lowest of the downtown zoning areas, thereby encouraging taller, more dense structures closer to downtown does not take pressure off anyone.

    As you are aware, zoning is not about numeric standards. If it was a math test, we wouldn’t need a DRC. Zoning/development is about reaching the “highest and best” use for a parcel WHILE maintaining compatibility with the surrounding uses. That was the core of my presentation. Unfortunately, DRC and I disagreed

    Your last comment “They contribute a lot of tax base and you don’t need a car if you live downtown.” Is an absurd falsehood. I have lived in DTSP on 4th Avenue for over 8 years. The buses are not practical. Keep in mind I grew up in NYC and rode buses and subways for the first 32 years of my life. Everyone I know who lives in DTSP ones a car. Some even own 2.

    Please note that I opposed this project and post here as an individual and NOT as a member of any organization.


  6. Avatar

    John Donovan

    July 18, 2023at3:53 pm

    Agree with Kari above. And I’d add that people escaping California, New Jersey, Illinois and New York with their family, talent and wealth, have to live somewhere.

  7. Avatar

    Kari M

    July 18, 2023at1:42 pm

    Im glad to hear this. Other projects have been stalled and abandoned when they were in compliance with zoning and were delayed due to sentiment and push back. Those are dollars lost to our economy and it creates a reputation for our city being difficult to do business in. High rises are the best way to accommodate the demand to live in St Pete. Building density doesn’t create demand, the demand is already there or they wouldn’t be building. High rises take pressure off existing residents when more options are available. They contribute a lot of tax base and you don’t need a car if you live downtown. i hope it’s a big success

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