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Redevelopment plan unveiled for YMCA property in St. Pete

Ashley Morales



YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg has announced a redevelopment site plan for its Jim & Heather Gills YMCA campus in St. Petersburg. Rendering provided.

A major redevelopment project has been proposed for the 11-acre YMCA property in St. Petersburg’s Grand Central District. 

The project includes the sale of just over 4.5 acres of the Jim & Heather Gills YMCA property on the west side of downtown St. Petersburg. The existing 55,000-square-foot facility will undergo extensive renovations, which will be funded by the proceeds from the land sale, according to YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. A notable addition will be a lighted artificial turf field along 1st Avenue S.

“The Jim and Heather Gills YMCA once opened was the catalyst for economic development in the surrounding area, and now nearly 25 years later can do the same with this new development opportunity,” said David Jezek, President & CEO, YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. “We look forward to serving our community in a bigger and better way.”

A partnership between Blake Investment Partners and Greystar Real Estate Partners has filed an application with the City of St. Petersburg’s Development Review Committee for the redevelopment of just over 4.5 acres of the YMCA campus on the west side of downtown St. Petersburg. In partnership with YMCA of Greater St Petersburg, Blake and Greystar have developed plans to redesign the Jim & Heather Gills YMCA campus into a mixed-use community gathering space. Image: Google Maps.

The YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg is also partnering with Blake Investment Partners, a local real estate firm, and Greystar Real Estate Partners, a national multifamily developer, to redevelop a portion of its 11-acre property at the southwest intersection of 31st St. S. and 1st Ave. S. The redevelopment plan, dubbed Whitney Village, aims to transform the site into a bustling mixed-use community.

The centerpiece of the redevelopment is a 325-unit apartment complex called “The Bellamy at Whitney Village.” This residential component will feature studios, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. The proposed plan states that residents of The Bellamy will receive YMCA memberships as part of their lease. 

In addition to the residential development, a pedestrian-only retail area spanning 32,000 square feet is planned. Designed to create a community-oriented gathering space, the retail village will include a selection of shops and restaurants. Above the retail units, an additional 50 smaller apartments and studios will be built, catering to local employees like YMCA staff, which developers said will be available at a “more affordable” price point.

Developers tell the Catalyst the goal is to create an all-inclusive community for residents.

“This is a special project. There are a few things (good and bad) that let you know that our city is maturing and growing. One of those things is producing housing for people that live and work in downtown,” Cole Sones, Partner with Blake Investment Partners, said in a prepared statement.  “I credit the Zoning Department and Development Services for their modern, long-term thinking.  Not every person needs to have a car, a garage and a commute. In fact, we now have a city where a lot of people don’t need – or want – to leave.”

To accommodate the increased activity in the area, a parking garage will be constructed to serve residents, YMCA members and visitors to the retail village – encouraging foot traffic and underlining the plan’s commitment to the pedestrian-only shopping center.

Before the redevelopment can proceed, the City of St. Petersburg’s Development Review Committee must approve the site plan submitted by the developers. If approved, the Whitney Village project, and the team behind the plans, said the goal is to revitalize the Grand Central District and create a stronger live-work-play neighborhood. 

“I am proud to be working with the YMCA on this project – they are a community asset,” said  Blake Whitney Thompson, owner of Blake Investment Partners. “Building Whitney Village, The Bellamy at Whitney Village and renovating the YMCA will bring the Grand Central District right to the doorstep of the YMCA. We are grateful to the leadership at the YMCA for their vision to be part of a district that will be a haven for new families and professionals of St. Pete for years to come.”

Said Jezek: “Blake and his partners have exciting plans for this area of the city that we have had the privilege to serve since 2001. As the anchor of the project, we are proud to be part of the growth and development that will bring new energy and community to the area.” 

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    May 9, 2024at2:38 pm

    Nice! Keeps the YMCA in place while adding dense, pedestrian-oriented stuff.

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