One of St. Petersburg’s newest hotels will open in the next few weeks.
Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on the Tru by Hilton, a seven-story, 131-room hotel at 1650 Central Ave. in the Grand Central District. The hotel expects to get a temporary occupancy permit on June 20 and has started booking guests for July, said Josiah Gross, vice president of development for Menna Development & Management Inc. in Clearwater, the developer on the project.
It won approval from the city in January 2019 and is one of several new hotels planned for Grand Central and the EDGE District.
The project is relatively close to on schedule, Gross said, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Many local hotels have scaled back operations and laid off staff because of travel slowdowns, but with construction still going at the Tru, the hotel did not lose reservations or have a staff impact due to COVID-19.
“October is already looking great and we hope to finish the year strong,” Gross said.
The lobby and rooms are still in various stages of completion and it’s not quite photo-ready, but Gross gave the St. Pete Catalyst a sneak peek on Friday.
The Tru brand focuses on creating a laid-back, fun environment for guests and is very community-centric. One key feature in each hotel is a large mural representing the city. The St. Petersburg hotel lobby has art created by local artist Mike Traina, a high school friend of Gross’.
The third-floor lobby also includes a game zone, digital pinball games, a work area and a front desk with beer, wine, soda and snacks available for grab-and-go. There’s a fitness center with video display for guided workouts, a collaboration room with moveable furniture to accommodate various types of meetings, and a guest laundry.
The design of the hotel couldn’t accommodate a full-size swimming pool, but the third floor has a large “wading pool” which will be outfitted with chairs that can be partially submerged in the water, on a deck that will include palm trees.
There’s also a fifth-floor terrace that could be rented for parties and weddings; the hotel’s commissary is large enough to accommodate potential pop-up restaurants on the terrace as well.
Most of the rooms are smaller than a typical hotel room, at about 250 square feet, but that allows Tru to keep the price point low. Guests generally won’t spend a lot of their rooms, Gross said; instead, they are expected to be out exploring the city.
Rooms on the north side of the hotel get a view of Central Avenue, while those on the south side of the hotel have a view of greenery and Tropicana Field, just two blocks south and home to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays’ season has been on hold because of the pandemic, but baseball was not a factor in choosing the location, Gross said.
“The factor for us was St. Pete itself,” he said.