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St. Pete City Council votes on high-rise near Mirror Lake

Margie Manning



Mirror Lake. Photo from Google Maps.

The St. Petersburg City Council voted Thursday to allow development of a 21-story mixed-use building near Mirror Lake to move forward.

Cara Florida Properties proposed constructing the building at the southeast corner of 3rd Avenue North and 5th Street North. It would have 10,890-square-feet of commercial space and 270 dwelling units.

According to city planners, there currently are seven apartment buildings at the site, ranging from one to three stories in height, built between 1916 and 1921 and containing a total of 97 apartments.

The project was approved by the city’s Development Review Commission unanimously in December, but the Preserve the ‘Burg organization appealed that decision and dozens of opponents of the project turned out at Thursday morning’s council meeting to ask council members to nix the development.

Preserve the ‘Burg argued the review commission erred in finding the proposed development was compatible with the neighborhood and surrounding adjacent historic resources. During a hearing at the council meeting, opponents also raised concerns about demolishing the existing structures, which they said offer affordable housing.

“This is gentrification with a capital G,” said City Council member Darden Rice, who voted to uphold the appeal and scratch the project.

Other council members said the project meets all existing criteria for developments, and they took issue with critics who said the city was losing the architecture and other characteristics that make it unique.

“If you really believe that you weren’t at Localtopia. You weren’t at the Indie Market,” said City Council Chair Charlie Gerdes. “The energy that makes our city unique is alive and well and growing and attracting people, and that is the reason that people who want to invest in a dream — whether it be a big dream or a small dream — are coming to our city.”

As long as a project follows existing code, the city has an obligation to allow it to move forward or face potential litigation and millions of dollars in damages, said Mayor Rick Kriseman, who weighed in at the end of several hours of testimony and debate.

“As we continue to try to attract business here and developers who are willing to build residential and office, if they don’t have certainty that when they file plans that follow the code that the project is going to get approved, there’s going to come a point in time when they will stop filing those, and our ability to continue to attract business and create jobs is going to impacted by that,” Kriseman said.

City Council members voted five-to-two against a motion to uphold the appeal, a vote that allows the project to move forward.

Rice and Steve Kornell voted in favor of the appeal, while Gerdes and four other council members — Gina Driscoll, Brandi Gabbard, Ed Montanari and Lisa Wheeler-Bowman — voted against the appeal.

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  1. Avatar

    Mike Smith

    February 7, 2019at4:40 pm

    Okay, so let’s remain calm folks. No one wants St. Pete to turn into Miami or Clearwater. But sometimes, just sometimes, old buildings need to be replaced by new ones. I bet those apartments were kinda crappy. Right? It’s okay to sometimes update buildings. The thing you want to watch is, because it’s white men who will be building these buildings, is to MAKE SURE they don’t bring some craptastic aesthetic. You know, boring boring boring and then paint it beige. They WILL do that if you let them. So make them visit Austin, Portland or other cool cities to show them how to build a really cool looking building that doesn’t look like grandma or white people who still wear pleated pants live there. (Here’s an example, see that new building across from Grass Roots? See that UGLY blue. Like the ugliest blue ever. It looks like Miami blue and it’s ugly and they could have chosen such a better blue. But no. An idiot with no design sense was in charge and that’s what you got. You have got to stop these men who live in beige world from building boring crap. Because we’re going to have to look at it for years to come.

    • Avatar

      Ed Obregon

      February 7, 2019at5:14 pm

      Bigoted much?

    • Avatar

      Evelyn Rhodes

      February 8, 2019at8:08 am

      It is ok to replace old buildings, but just don’t forget about the less fortunate who can not afford to live downtown and make affordable living apartments before God comes through and knock all of million dollar condos down!

  2. Avatar

    M. J. Edwards

    March 15, 2019at2:41 pm

    Does anyone know if and when this project is going ahead?

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