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Single-family homes to make way for 18-story tower

Mark Parker

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St. Petersburg's Development Review Commission recently approved a site plan and density bonuses for a $79.2 million 18-story tower. Renderings provided.

A once-predominantly residential neighborhood sandwiched between St. Petersburg’s Edge and Grand Central Districts is now booming with redevelopment, and the latest luxury tower has cleared its first bureaucratic hurdles.

If completed, the $79.2 million project would encompass 38,079 square feet on a .87-acre lot at 201 18th St. N. The area currently features a small multi-family building and single-family homes.

The proposed 18-story tower and five-story parking podium would rise 262 feet above adjacent Booker Creek. The citizen-led development review commission (DRC) aired some concerns before unanimously approving the project at its Dec. 6 meeting.

“I think the designation of DC-2 (downtown corridor zoning) was the end of that neighborhood being a single-family neighborhood,” said Commissioner Sarah-Jane Vatelot. “This is within the requirements set forth within DC-2 – it checks all the boxes.

“I think impact fees are going to need to be put towards improving the roadways in order to support the type of traffic we will be seeing, not only from this project but from all the projects that are up-and-coming in this neighborhood.”

Altamonte Springs-based LeCesse Development and WSLD St. Petersburg, its local subsidiary, proposed the project. It would feature 279 units and a 382-space parking garage at the northeast corner of 18th Street and 2nd Avenue North.

The development review commission stipulated that a non-fabric screening must shield residents and motorists from parking garage headlights.

The tower’s first floor consists of a lobby, leasing office and entryways to the parking garage from 18th Street and 2nd Avenue. The sixth floor incorporates residential units and amenities, including an outdoor pool deck.

Most residences, ranging from 550-square-foot studios to 1,200-square-foot two-bedroom units, will encompass the seventh to 18th floors. The site plan calls for a 2,000-square-foot fenced dog run along the property’s eastern edge.

City Councilmember Gina Driscoll expressed concern about that feature at a Nov. 30 meeting. She said the noise could bother adjacent single-family homes.

A city staffer said building officials have already approved a new project on those lots. “Most of this microneighborhood is basically wiped out now for redevelopment,” Driscoll said. “It’s hard to keep track of which ones are still truly there.”

She said the developers should place the dog run in another area to avoid conflicts with neighbors. Councilmember Richie Floyd said the site seemed “like a straight-up residential area.”

Callum King, finance director for LeCesse, said people currently lease the existing properties. He said the firm intends to keep families in their homes until the project progresses.

The city council then unanimously advanced the proposal to the Dec. 6 DRC meeting.

An eight-unit apartment building and single-family homes line a brick-paved 18th Street North. Photo: Google

In August, WSLD purchased an eight-unit apartment building and a home with an accessory dwelling unit at 1743 2nd Ave. N. in a $3.275 million deal. The structures were built between 1925 and 1948.

DC-2 zoning allows a 212-foot maximum building height. However, the developers are seeking density bonuses that more than double the allowable floor-area ratio (FAR) from 3.0 to 7.0.

LeCesse must purchase 23,097 square feet in transfer of development rights (TDRs) from a locally designated historic landmark to obtain those bonuses. They will also contribute at least $729,000 to the city’s Housing Capital Improvements Projects trust fund.

An adjacent resident, also a local developer, spoke against the project. “We keep referring to this location as downtown,” the man said. “This is right on the edge of the Edge District and the Grand Central Business District.”

He and commissioners also questioned if 18th Street’s narrow brick roadway could handle the population influx. DRC concerns centered on traffic analysis inadequacies, subjective zoning interpretations and the parking garage’s mandated covering.

Commissioner Matt Walker said DC-2 zoning regulations stipulate that building heights should “taper” as developments move away from the central business district and into more residential areas. “We’ve had this argument … and here we are even further from the proximity of the core.”

However, Commissioner Chuck Flynt noted that buildings like the 46-story Residences at 400 Central are under construction downtown. “So, when you compare the two, it is tapering down,” he said.

“Do we want to see a 45,46-story building here?” Flynt added. “No. The height on this one doesn’t overly bother me, especially when I see (similar) examples just three or four blocks to the south.”

He and other commissioners said the I-275 overpass abutting 18th Street would act as a buffer. The DRC approved the site plan and requested density bonuses with the condition that the developer must complete a long-term analysis of traffic impacts to the adjacent alley.

Commissioners also stipulated that a non-fabric screening that diffuses light must cover street-facing views of the five-story parking garage.

 

 

 

 

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Pamela Scherer

    December 12, 2023at3:32 pm

    We do not have the infrastructure to support this massive building. Our water, sewage, electricity and roads will not support this building. Plus parking and roads are limited. Hope they do not continue.

  2. Avatar

    S. Rose Smith-Hayes

    December 12, 2023at1:56 pm

    We have a water shortage and you All keep building and building. Please Stop It!!!!!!!!

  3. Avatar

    Minedga. Archilla-McNamee

    December 11, 2023at8:55 pm

    Who do we thank for overbuilding!! Infrastructure of the water system that comes from Tampa should be on the top list!! After chlorine dissipates, what is left are + chemicals!! And your wonder why do much CANCER?!!

  4. Avatar

    Brian

    December 10, 2023at10:54 pm

    I used to live at 1701 Central right by here. A great place that is 5 stories tall. How in the world do they think an 18 story high rise would look okay here? This is nuts.

  5. Avatar

    KCX

    December 9, 2023at8:10 pm

    So you will have a view of I 275 and semi trucks noise all night,from your $1,800.00 a month 500 sq foot studio concrete cube in the sky. I think I will run for a City Politician. The developers will stuff my pockets with wads of cash.

  6. Avatar

    Kelly

    December 9, 2023at4:37 pm

    Not a fan….this is nuts. At what point will they stop and just say no more. There are other areas outside of ours that need residents and have the space. This goes back to “don’t Lauderdale st petersburg”. When you encroach on residential homes, everyone should be concerned. Additionally, we are going to have a congestion problem on our streets. This is piss poor planning at its finest.

  7. Bob Griendling

    Bob Griendling

    December 9, 2023at4:20 pm

    I wish they would have restricted parking, so residents would need to use more transit, walk, ride or scoot.

  8. Avatar

    Steve

    December 9, 2023at3:29 pm

    The last thing Pinellas County needs is more density. We’re already the most densely populated country in Florida.

  9. Avatar

    Sandhillsrider

    December 9, 2023at3:09 pm

    In the 60’s the city was telling everyone to conserve water so we wouldn’t empty the wells. In the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s etc. Now it seems not only new towers are going up but new car washes by the month. So do we have enough fresh water or not?

  10. Avatar

    Bill Herrmann

    December 9, 2023at9:41 am

    I am not thrilled with the size of the structure, but it marginally complies with DC-2. If we wish to preserve our single-family areas, we need to re-evaluate the zoning codes ASAP, or they will be lost forever. This is something citizens need to contact their councilmember to discuss!

    The immediately actionable concern is that this is another uninspired design. The St. Petersburg real estate market is crazy hot. As one would expect, developers are submitting simple designs that maximize profit.

    It falls to staff and to some extent the DRC to stop approving plans that are boring and repetitive. This yet another yellow and white building that has the EXACT SAME exterior design on every floor.

    While I opposed the size of the tower approved to be built adjacent to the MAACM, the exterior of that design is engaging. It was not floor after floor of terraces! Many, many, cities look to ensure the exterior of the buildings vary to avoid cookie-cutter designs. We need to be one of them.

    St. Petersburg has always had a unique architecture. We have some beautiful funky buildings. If we are going to load-up the various DC districts with towers, if we are going to go vertical with growth, let’s make the developers impart some of that funk into their designs.

  11. Avatar

    Rick Kaczmarek

    December 8, 2023at10:43 pm

    Yes. And Yes.

  12. Avatar

    Sherrie M

    December 8, 2023at5:57 pm

    Nope, nada, never, they all get approved. We all pay for these projects in one way or the other. In my opinion they are not building for residents who already live here because we can’t afford them. They are building for people who may move here.

  13. Avatar

    Shaq

    December 8, 2023at5:51 pm

    @Adam, most definitely. The most notable is The Juilia, as well as the Mirror Lake condo project. Heck, Mayor Welch rejected Moffit, although I’m confident they will rework the deal. It’s not good business to reject a development simply because you don’t want it — especially if subject development fits the zoning guidelines. Whether individuals want to believe it or not, this area of Saint Petersburg is considered downtown and the zoning permits this type of structure.

  14. Avatar

    Adam Smith

    December 8, 2023at5:19 pm

    Does any high rise proposal in St Pete EVER get rejected? Is no location EVER found to be incompatible?

  15. Avatar

    Lauren Lopez

    December 8, 2023at4:41 pm

    Is this rentals or condos? Did I miss that in the description?

  16. Avatar

    William Kunzman

    December 8, 2023at4:16 pm

    We have a water shortage and they’re adding more people. Our roads are clogged and they’re adding more vehicle.

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