DDA Development in Tampa and Backstreets Capital in St. Petersburg are working together on a four-story, 204-unit apartment development at 6090 Central Ave.
The project will be built at the site of the former corporate offices of The Edwards Group, a diversified company with real estate and other interests. The Edwards Group is now located across Central Avenue at the Wittner Centre, said Bill Edwards, CEO.
Sixty90 LLC, a limited liability company whose members include DDA and Backstreets Capital, closed on the purchase of the property Dec. 18, paying $5.6 million, according to Pinellas County property records.
Initial plans call for 90 percent of the units to be workforce housing, designed for individuals and families who earn up to 120 percent of the area median income, said Bowen Arnold, manager and principal at DDA Development. The remaining 10 percent would be market rate apartments.
The early plans also envision nine studio apartments, with 700 square feet each; 74 one-bedroom, one-bath units at 745 square feet; 102 two-bedroom, two-bath units at 1,052 square feet; and 19 three-bedroom, two-bath units at 1,450 square feet, Arnold said.
The project is just minutes from the Pinellas Trail, and on the route for SunRunner, the new bus rapid transit line that will run from downtown St. Petersburg to the beaches, according to DDA’s website. It will be one of the first developments to utilize the new Corridor Residential Traditional, or CRT, zoning district/overlay, and is located in the new Central Avenue Corridor Activity Center, DDA said.
The West Central Avenue Streetscape Plan, with streetscape design, water main replacement and branding, is expected to begin in the summer of 2021 and be completed by winter 2022, the city of St. Petersburg’s website said.
“We really like that corridor,” Arnold said in an email to the St. Pete Catalyst, citing the proximity to SunRunner and the Pinellas Trail. “The city has encouraged development in the corridor by increasing densities recently, but it is difficult to assemble property there so we were fortunate to find the former Edwards property. The height restriction in the area is [about] 70 feet, so would allow a 6-7 story building, but we are proposing 4 stories as we think that will be more compatible with the neighborhood. Finally, there are lots of small business in the area (law offices, insurance, doctors, other professional services). We love St. Pete in general, but think the west side is under served with class A apartments, and we tried to follow the city’s lead in developing a project with great connectivity to downtown and/or the beaches.”
DDA Development and Backstreets Capital have collaborated previously, including working together on Orange Station at the Edge, the mixed-use project planned at the site of the former St. Petersburg Police headquarters, as well as The Salvador, a condominium tower in downtown St. Petersburg, and Icaria on Pinellas, an apartment complex in Tarpon Springs.
DDA Development is headed by Arnold and John Schilling, also manager and principal, while Backstreets Capital was co-founded by Will Conroy and Craig Sher. Sixty90 is only one block from the headquarters of The Sembler Co., where Sher served as CEO for many years. He stepped down as executive chairman in 2019.
Edwards told the Catalyst the apartments were a great idea for the area, and said that if DDA and Backstreets hadn’t planned them, he might have done the project himself.
Edwards said he started working 25 years ago at the Wittner Centre, an office building in the 5900 block of Central Avenue, before acquiring the land across the street, and now has come full circle in returning there.