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Local developers plan mixed-use West St. Pete project

Veronica Brezina



J Square Developers and Backstreets Capital, which have constructed numerous local townhome communities, will bring a new mixed-use project to West St. Pete. 

The project, dubbed Strum Place, will be built on the corner of Central Avenue and 64th Street N – near a SunRunner bus rapid transit line stop. The plans call for a high-end townhome development and adaptive reuse of an existing structure. 

“This is the first residential development for West St. Pete in over the last decade,” said Will Conroy, president and founder of Backstreets Capital. 

“There are slightly unproven bones of a great neighborhood here, and retailers and restaurants understand the great business in this part of town and how residential development is a natural extension.” 

Strum Place, which will rise where the current parking lot exists, will include nine new 2,040-square-foot townhome units in three buildings with prices starting in the $700,000s. 

Each unit will have three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a private balcony and a two-car garage. Three townhomes will offer private fenced yards. 

The developers also intend to preserve four mature oak trees along 64th Street to create privacy and protect the neighborhood’s tree canopy. 

Construction is planned to begin in the first quarter of 2024 and will be completed 12 months later.

The developers said the upscale residential development will meet a growing demand as more people migrate to the city; however, they also acknowledge the need for other types of housing. 

“Outside of Habitat for Humanity, there’s no other for-sale product contemplated that has homeownership affordability attached to it,” said Conroy. “Without meaningful government subsidies, you can’t build it.” 

The partners purchased the infill property at 6366 Central in December. The site is developed with the Strum House, a home built in 1924 for The Strums, a pioneer West St. Pete family. 

A rendering of the proposed office space at the historic Strum House. 

The team will convert the 4,800-square-foot structure into office space as part of the new development. The home is not registered as a local or national historic landmark.  

“The building would be perfect for an accounting or insurance firm or lawyer who wants to own a piece of St. Pete’s history with an office inside the 100-year-old pioneer home,” said J Square President Jay Miller. 

Miller said since purchasing the site, the duo has been drafting the vision for it, and recently filed design documents with the city. 

“Jay and I try to preserve as many historically significant charming buildings as we can,” Conroy said. 

Last year, Backstreets Capital and DDA Development relocated a historic 120-year-old home, known as the Watergarden Inn, three-quarters of a mile – from 126 4th Avenue to the northeast corner of 8th Avenue N. and Dartmoor Street. The relocation spared the home; the partners commenced construction for The Nolen, a 23-story condominium tower, at the 4th Avenue site. 

Miller also restored an Art Deco building on 4th Street, formerly an antique mall and car dealership, where a F45 gym currently operates. 

Additionally, J Square Developers and Backstreets Capital have co-developed a handful of other residential projects, such as the Saint James Townhomes in St. Petersburg and the Marlin at Bayshore in Tampa.

“We try to design each project to be compatible with the different neighborhoods,” Conroy said. 

Backstreets Capital was also a partner in the development team for the Salvador Apartments in downtown St. Petersburg, while J Square has developed retail projects along 4th Street, attracting the area’s first Trader Joes and Whole Foods grocers. 

For the Strum Place project, the two groups are working with architect firm BSB Design and designer Space Interiors. Stephanie Pia and Chris Pitre of Smith and Associates are marketing the townhomes. Broker Wendy Giffin of Cushman and Wakefield is marketing the office building. 

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    November 16, 2023at11:52 am

    That’s my Lotto store! 😂

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    Michael F McKee

    November 15, 2023at4:34 am

    This is not the first development in this area on 64th st.Just south of this is a development of affordable apartments for working people.

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    November 14, 2023at10:38 am

    not to mention that convenience store right on the corner – it attracts a dicey crowd sometimes

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    Lynn Proctor

    November 14, 2023at7:48 am

    I imagine that Central Ave. will have more development as it is a mixed use corridor that goes from the beach to downtown. So far, much of Central Ave. is unremarkable until you get toward downtown with small businesses that cater to those who live in the pricier condos and tourists down there. The setting for this project at this price level is questionable, though, as that area is not visually appealing at all, filled with pizza joints, hair cutting, pet groomers and banks, etc.

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