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DRC deliberates on controversial condo project

Veronica Brezina

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A rendering of Domus Urbana at 644 3rd Ave. S. NJR said the Castille Urbana building will be nearly identical. Image: NJR Companies.

The developer behind a new five-story residential building on 3rd Avenue South is battling an appeal filed by a neighborhood association. 

On Wednesday, the St. Petersburg Development Review Commission unanimously voted to defer and add special conditions to NJR Development’s project called Castille Urbana, a 40-unit condominium building, which would be built at 610 3rd Ave. S., near its other project underway, Domus Urbana.  

The $12.5 million project, approved by the Community Redevelopment Agency in June, was going before the DRC as it was seeking a FAR (floor area ratio) bonus. It is also facing an appeal.  

Several weeks ago, the city clerk received the appeal from the 3rd Avenue South Townhomes Property Owners Association Inc (appellant), which is made of several members. The appellant listed six items as grounds for the appeal, including a discrepancy about the property lines, a retaining wall, noise and pollution, the removal and replacement of a fence and the parking access through an alleyway.

“All Castille Urbana construction shall take place within the property lines, there should be no interference with our neighbors to the west,” Joe Delinks, project manager at NJR, said during the meeting. 

Tony Cheung, the licensed architect for the project, stated that the neighbors would not see the retaining wall and that the parking access must be through an alleyway on Charles Court S. due to the number of parking spaces, which will have screening. 

The team also said the environmental issues are addressed and meet the code, but agreed to the height of the fencing and making the retaining wall decorative, but they didn’t agree to all of the conditions the association requested. 

While the team addressed the concerns introduced in the appeal, DRC member Charles Flynt made negative remarks about the property that will, ultimately, be nearly identical to its sister property next door. 

“When I looked at this site and saw the building that’s under construction [Domus Urbana], I’m like, ‘this is the same building. They’ve perfected the art of designing a box and slapping some metal patios on it,'” Flynt said, saying the premise of the project is to make it “as cheap as humanly possible.” 

“This is one ugly building,” Flynt said, describing the near-completed Domus Urbana building, while the development team previously said it was designing a high-quality product. 

If the DRC granted the appeal, NJR’s application would be denied. The DRC members said the deferral could allow the developer to come to a mutual agreement with the neighborhood association.

The subject property for Castille Urbana has two existing two-story buildings and three one-story buildings, with a total of 13 residential units. These buildings would be demolished. 

Site plans for the proposed project show the ground floor would consist of a lobby, amenity space, utility rooms and enclosed parking. The second through fifth floors will consist solely of condo units. 

The residences are a mix of two- and three-bedroom floor plans ranging in the same square footage as Domus Urbana’s units. Pricing for Castille Urbana would start from the mid-$500,000s.

NJR is seeking to utilize a FAR bonus of 0.3, in doing so, the applicant will be required to provide a minimum of $19,122 to the Housing Capital Improvements Projects (HCIP) Trust Fund. 

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1 Comment

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    Georgia Earp

    July 8, 2022at6:22 pm

    It is wonderful to hear that the DRC is considering “compatible development.”

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