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DRC greenlights plan for 21-story tower near Mirror Lake

Veronica Brezina



A rendering of the proposed tower seen from 1st Ave. All images: City of St. Petersburg documents.

Two office buildings and a triplex on Arlington Avenue will be demolished to make way for a new 21-story tower. 

The St. Petersburg Development Review Commission unanimously approved a plan from Gravel Road Partners this week for the development group’s $63.5 million mixed-use tower at 85 and 699 1st Ave. North and 694 Arlington Ave. North near Mirror Lake.

The future tower would feature 200 residential units, 10,843 square feet of commercial space and a 264-space parking garage.

Gravel Road Partners purchased the property last year in a $6.4 million deal. 

A rendering of the proposed 21-story building as seen from 7th Street N. and 1st Avenue. 

Trenam Law attorney Don Mastry, representing the applicant, informed commissioners the existing office buildings have been altered and no longer retain their historical integrity; therefore, the applicant can demolish the buildings. 

Mastry highlighted the proposed tower would be 175 feet west of Mirror Lake Drive at the site in the DC-1 zoning area, which allows for some of the most intense development. 

While the board agreed with Mastry, acknowledging the significant setback and ultimately voting in his favor, there was a brief debate regarding the impact the structure would have on the surrounding area as the Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg, located on the north side of Arlington Avenue North, is within 200 feet of the site. 

Bill Herrmann, a member of the Preserve The ‘Burg advocacy group, described how vibrations from another tower under construction affected his home. He recommended the board adopt protocols to mitigate the impact. 

“No elements of the church will be obstructed by the project,” Mastry contested.

The commissioners said the applicant is “sensitive” to the neighborhood and it would be unjust to adopt conditions for this sole project. 

The board’s approval of the project also includes a 4.0 Far Area Ratio (FAR) bonus for the 0.57-acre site that currently has a 3.0 FAR.

With the density bonus approval, the applicant must contribute to the city’s Housing Capital Improvements Projects (HCIP) trust fund to aid in the city’s workforce housing efforts. 

The site plan and renderings show the ground floor of the proposed tower would feature a residential lobby, commercial space and a parking garage entrance. Floors two through seven would consist of parking. The eighth floor would serve as amenity space and include residential units. The remaining levels of the tower would house the additional residential units.

An outdoor space would be developed at the northeast corner of the property to help provide additional separation between the proposed building and the Unitarian Universalist Church. 

The site plan of the tower. 

The building layout also permits a large covered open space along the south and east sides of the building. The covered open space would have a 22-foot-high ground-level clearance, “helping to create an open feel and reducing the overall mass of the building at ground level,” according to the application. 

The development team includes Hollywood-based ODP Architects and St. Petersburg-based landscape architect firm Booth Design Group. 

The applicant has not released a construction timeline for the project.

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  1. Avatar

    Bill Herrmann

    May 6, 2023at8:01 am

    Please- accurately reflect the nature of my comments when quoting me.

    I spoke to ensure measures were taken to protect the 100-year-old church across the street from the project. I cited a specific project and noted the observable structural damage to an adjacent contributing structure in our National Historic District. This damage is currently being litigated.

    While our National Historic District continues to lose contributing structures, it is essential that the remaining ones- especially ones that maintain their original design elements, be protected.

    The goal of my 3-minutes at DRC was to express the need to better protect historic structures, like the church, from construction-related vibration damage. This need was recognized by the DRC members and the developer.

    The key to ensuring that ‘the spark’ is not a ‘flash in the pan’ is to keep St. Petersburg unique. A large part of our uniqueness comes from our various historic districts and the noteworthy buildings therein. It is in our best economic interest to protect them.

    I would welcome support from the Catalyst in helping move forward the requirement for enhanced vibration monitoring when working around historic resources. It is a reasonable action to protect one of the keys to St. Petersburg’s success- the wonderful and varied architecture.

    Bill Herrmann

  2. Avatar

    Matthew K Gowdy

    May 6, 2023at5:43 pm

    Your Plat map is wrong! It cannot be on 1st Street and 7th Street at the same time.

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