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Historic St. Pete home rolls into new location

Veronica Brezina

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An image of the Watergarden Inn being relocated to its new home. Image provided by DDA Development.

If you were out and about last night, you may have seen a two-story house rolling down the street. 

After a year in the making, DDA Development and its partners were able to relocate the historic 120-year-old home, known as the Watergarden Inn, three-quarters of a mile, or 10 blocks, from 126 4th Avenue to the northeast corner of 8th Avenue N. and Dartmoor Street. 

The home, which operated as a hotel from 2012 until last year, was relocated to make way for The Nolen, a 23-story boutique condominium tower in downtown St. Petersburg. 

“It was a nearly 13-hour effort that started Sunday morning at 12 a.m. We originally thought it would take eight hours,” DDA Development partner Kevin Gardner told the St. Pete Catalyst about the effort. 

As part of the agreement for the development of The Nolen, the team, encompassing DDA Development, Backstreets Capital and Place Architecture, promised the city it would retain the historic building rather than demolish it as it has done so with a second structure at the site.  

It took roughly a year in planning how to execute the enormous feat and the team had to coordinate its efforts with the city, the Florida Department of Transportation (as there was a state-owned road) and six major utility providers.

The development team conducted both a pre-and post-inspection of the home and tapped Florida-based AJS Building Moving and Leveling to spearhead the move.  

“We had the home sitting on timbers, and at key points there were hydraulic dollies to adjust the height to help the home go over curbs and barriers,” Gardner said.

Other parties involved included Armstrong Traffic Management, which had to disconnect the five traffic signals. Gardner said the team also worked with the St. Petersburg Police Department to help move the house safely. 

“We’re tremendously impressed with the professionalism of everyone involved in this project. There was exceptional care put into the preservation of the house, as well as avoiding disruption to the neighborhood. It was an impressive effort,” DDA Development Principal Bowen Arnold said in a news release about the project. 

DDA purchased the property last year for $7 million. 

Now that the site, roughly smaller than a half of an acre, is cleared of the home, the development team can get to work on The Nolen. 

Rendering of The Nolen. Image provided.

Gardner said the team received the building permit for The Nolen a week ago. Construction is expected to take place over 20 months with groundwork commencing this month. 

The group is also working with Melissa Kelly D. Design Studio, and Smith and Associates Real Estate as the exclusive broker.  

Once completed, The Nolen will feature 31 residences.

Each residence is designed to be completely private and separate with no shared neighboring walls.

The green-certified complex will offer a dedicated concierge, fitness center, wellness room, a social room called “The Saloon” with a large catering kitchen, and terrace with a heated pool and spa, outdoor kitchen, fire tables and cabanas.

The group has sold over 65% sold in advance of the commencement of construction, and only two full-floor residences remain.

The development is named after urban planner John Nolen, who has a significant role in St. Pete’s waterfront parks.

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