Connect with us

Place

Proposed tower project progresses despite objections

Mark Parker

Published

on

The St. Petersburg City Council denied an appeal regarding a proposed 25-story tower that will allow condominium owners to offer their units as short-term rentals. Screengrab, city documents.

Three buildings, including two built in 1920, could soon make way for a 25-story tower with 152 residential or short-term rental units near downtown St. Petersburg.

Clearwater-based Valor Capital proposed the $55 million hybrid project, called 4th and 4th in renderings. Despite objections from preservationists, City Council found the development compatible with the Intown Redevelopment Plan (IRP) at Thursday’s meeting.

The half-acre property at 332, 340 and 344 4th Street S. – near the intersection of 4th Avenue – currently consists of a two-story and three-story apartment building built in 1920 and a four-unit condominium complex opened in 2003. Attorney Don Mastry, representing the developer, noted that the century-old structures lack official historic designations.

“We’ve demolished many buildings that were more than 50 years old that were not historic for redevelopment,” Mastry said.

Manny Leto, executive director of Preserve the ‘Burg, agreed that the city code does not require officials to protect non-designated buildings. However, he said sections of the IRP instruct them to maintain historic, cultural and aesthetic integrity in redevelopment areas.

Leto added that it also highlights the importance of utilizing the city’s existing housing stock and ensuring infill developments are compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. He said a forthcoming Preserve the ‘Burg study found that 81% of St. Petersburg’s small multifamily buildings were built before 1960.

He explained that those units provide much-needed affordable housing.“Monthly housing costs for owners and renters of historic properties are lower than for renters and owners in the rest of the city,” Leto said.

“What that’s showing, in plain English, is that this existing housing stock is providing a level of affordability.”

The intersection of 4th Street and 4th Avenue South. GoogleMaps.

Mastry pushed back on Leto’s assertions, which he also submitted in a letter to city officials. “If the Preserve the ‘Burg letter is correct, our downtown would have never been redeveloped,” Mastry said.

City staff and council members acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) found the project consistent with the IRP. Valor Capital must contribute $550,000 to the Housing and Capital Improvement Trust Fund and receive approval from the Development Review Commission (DRC).

If approved, the ground floor will consist of a residential lobby, 4,893 square feet of commercial space and a 130-space parking garage. The hybrid service model will allow condominium owners to offer their units as short-term rentals.

Councilmember Ed Montanari questioned if that contradicts the city’s short-term rental ordinance. Zoning official Corey Malyszka said the development must operate like a hotel.

“And by definition of a hotel, you have to have onsite staff 24-7,” Malyszka added. “It cannot be a bed and breakfast; it cannot be an Airbnb.”

City attorney Michael Dema explained that “calling it a hotel directs it away from the short-term rental and transient accommodation definition, and the protections residential neighborhoods get with that.”

Malyszka said the tower will feature a 25th-floor sky bar. An uncovered plaza and covered courtyard will be visible from 4th Street and 4th Avenue.

A street-level view of the proposed $55 million project. Screengrab, city documents.

He said corner balconies on each floor would overlook the city. Malyszka said the semi-transparent, four-story podium would display movement on the facades “that relate to 4th Street and 4th Avenue, as a metaphor of the city’s progressive and art-related spirit.”

City staff found that the building’s height and design are consistent with several other residential towers in the immediate area. Examples included The Sage on 4th Avenue South, which only encompasses 13 stories, and the 18-story Camden Pier District on 3rd Street South.

“It’s been said that as the CRA, you can just approve these projects as the DRC is going to look at them,” said resident Bill Herrmann during the open forum. “I respectfully submit that that is inappropriate. “When you turn your hat around as the city council, you have a strong voice in preserving the character of St. Petersburg.”

The project was unanimously approved, with Councilmembers Gina Driscoll, Richie Floyd and Copley Gerdes absent.

 

 

 

Continue Reading
6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    MelvinJunior

    January 7, 2024at3:33 am

    BILL: I guess, he should’ve said that it was more towards that area, in that neck of the woods then, just in order to make YOU happy… Cause, nobody else CARES!!!! If, they did… Then they would just do what I did and google-mappit LoL.

  2. Avatar

    debra roman

    January 6, 2024at8:17 pm

    I agree the architecture is uninspired. The city should insist on design that respects the past while providing for transition between neighborhoods.

    Try harder folks.

  3. Avatar

    Stephen Phillips

    January 6, 2024at3:51 pm

    And just how is a 25-story building with a skybar and shortterm rentals, “consistent” with an 18-story or 13-story residential building? And to dump it in the middle of a residential neighborhood. And how foolish it is to keep crying about the lack of affordable housing and then approve–by unanimous vote–the creation of this monstrosity, which destroys numerous “affordable housing” units, including one which the city, itself, included as the “poster child” of the city’s future housing in the Vision 2050 online posting. Step by step, St. Petersburg seems to be committing suicide, as it ignores statement after statement–published in its own publications–about “preserving the character of neighborhoods,” maintaining the character of our city, “protecting the character and viability of neighborhoods,” blah, blah blah.

  4. Avatar

    Luci J

    January 5, 2024at11:53 am

    Where are the Frank Lloyd Wright’s of this generation of architects? There is nothing noteworthy of this building and so many other new construction buildings in St Petersburg.

  5. Avatar

    RITA SEWELL

    January 4, 2024at4:56 pm

    Thank you Bill Herrmann for once again making things clear and making things correct. Yes I saw that article and thought mirror Lake neighborhood what so yeah thank you

  6. Avatar

    Bill Herrmann

    January 4, 2024at4:31 pm

    Your portrayal of my arguments are not wholly accurate. The core of my argument was this is another uninspired design. I fully recognize that redevelopment will happen. I even quoted a Catalyst interview with Rick Krisemen who said our city should “continue growing, but in a smart way that honors the character of the community.” Rick and I agree!!!

    I then explained that “Tall box-like buildings with towers that have floor after floor of the same façade design, accentuate the height. The repeating pattern presents to the eye as a vertical line. If we are going to allow the maximum height map to dominate the question of mass and scale, then we need to insist that architects continue to develop inspired designs that break up the perceived verticality of the building.”

    Tall buildings are going to get built- I never ever said they wouldn’t. My silence regarding many of those project is proof I accept that fact. BUT, to preserve walkability we need creative designs. In my 3-,minutes I even cited the Signature and some new buildings that have been approved as examples of inspired architecture that use intelligent design to lessen the visual impact of the structure.

    For some reason those facts were absent in your report.

    I also bring to your attention another factual error. This property at “332, 340 and 344 4th Street S” or 4th St and 3rd Avenue SOUTH. Whereas Mirror Lake is roughly at 2nd Ave and 7th Street NORTH. That is over a 1/2 walk away. By any reasonable measure, that is NOT the Mirror Lake neighborhood!

    Facts matter- please, report things accurately!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By posting a comment, I have read, understand and agree to the Posting Guidelines.

The St. Pete Catalyst

The Catalyst honors its name by aggregating & curating the sparks that propel the St Pete engine.  It is a modern news platform, powered by community sourced content and augmented with directed coverage.  Bring your news, your perspective and your spark to the St Pete Catalyst and take your seat at the table.

Email us: spark@stpetecatalyst.com

Subscribe for Free

Share with friend

Enter the details of the person you want to share this article with.