Red Apple Group CEO and Chairman John Catsimatidis is on schedule with breaking ground for his mixed-use $400 million development in downtown St. Pete, with more plans in the works.
The New York billionaire purchased the property at 400 Central Ave. several years ago to develop a 45-story, 300-unit luxury condominium tower, which will be the largest condo on the west coast of Florida and the tallest structure in St. Pete.
Catsimatidis told the St. Pete Catalyst that he plans to live in a penthouse of the condo as he is fully invested in continuing work in the community. Castimatidis has strong family ties in St. Pete and plans to resume working and partially residing in New York, which he will continue to travel to and from.
The 2.3-acre site will also have a Class-A office building, which the newly refreshed plans call for it to double the square footage of available office space to 45,000 square feet, as well as adding more residential parking and expanding the ground-floor retail space. The original estimated cost for the mixed-use development was $250 million, but it’s continued to grow and now it estimated to carry a price tag of $400 million due to the revised plans.
In an exclusive interview with the Catalyst, Catsimatidis shared more on why he selected the site and future endeavors for the area:
What interested you in that specific location in St. Pete? “My reputation is I’m a problem solver. This property had six or seven partners [dealing] with it and I know I’m the only guy who could solve it. I felt good making everybody happy getting the deal done for my company.”
The site previously was occupied by the Phiel Hotel and the Central National Bank Building, both of which were demolished in 2016. Red Apple Group paid $16.5 million for the site in 2017.
How does this project compare to the numerous others you have invested in? “I have spent a little extra time on this one since I’m going to live there. It’s going to be beautiful. This is going to be the tallest tower on the west coast of Florida. Can you imagine going to the roof and being able to lay down and watch the stars? I think a lot of New Yorkers will commute here. It will probably take me less time to fly to St. Pete than to drive around New York.”
His other projects include towers in Coney Island and The Eagle, a 32-story residential tower in downtown Brooklyn.
Does this mean the community should expect more projects on the horizon beyond this mixed-use development, and what’s the next area you are watching? “Yes. We are ready to sign checks. I think the Warehouse Arts District. A lot of people moving to St. Pete are interested in the arts.”
What will the starting price per unit for the condos? “The starting price per condo depends on the number of rooms, and it will be comparable to the same prices as existing high-end condos in St. Pete.”
For the office space, do you already have potential tenants? “We are talking with a few right now. They are New York-based.”
I know originally a hotel was in the plans. Where does that project currently stand? “We don’t have any experience in hotels and all the hotel companies we were dealing with were in trouble [due to the Covid-19 pandemic] but it could be possible for the future.”
What are the next steps for this development? “Right now we are moving full steam ahead. We should finish our sales office by September. We are going to lay the foundation in the next 60 days [as all the projects within the development will happen simultaneously].”