The downtown St. Petersburg building boom is missing just one thing — live-work apartments — says Steve Gianfilippo, owner of Station House.
His Gianco Companies plan to fill that gap.
Gianco is developing The Mason, with 40 furnished apartment units, retail and event space, at 300 Central Ave.
The company bought the building in July 2017 for nearly $6 million and plans to invest about $6 million to $8 million in renovations, Gianfilippo said.
There will be 39 one-bedroom, one-bath furnished apartments with amenities such as a dining room table that can double as a conference table, and a 2,000-square-foot penthouse, with a 2,000-square-foot outdoor terrace that could be an apartment or event space. There’s about 5,000 square feet of ground floor space that he expects to lease to a local food and beverage company.
“In talking to some of the tech companies that are looking for space in downtown Tampa or downtown St. Pete, they said they can’t afford to live downtown and get an office downtown, but they could afford to do both if it’s all in one,” Gianfilippo said.
Other markets are snowbirds and visitors to St. Petersburg and development players from other markets, with employees on the ground full-time in St. Pete working on their own projects.
Tenants will get a membership to Station House, a co-work space at 260 1st Ave. S., and to the recently opened Station House Arcade at 689 Central Ave., as well as the new Station House-concept Gianfilippo is developing in Tampa’s Hyde Park neighborhood — a project expected to open in this summer that he is likely to name Hyde House, he said.
The live-work apartments are drawing praise from local real estate brokers, including Wendy Giffin, director at Cushman & Wakefield of Florida.
“The Mason (former Coronet building) is one of the most important and highly visible corners in downtown St. Pete,” Giffin said. “Steve’s vision to refresh the building with a modern adaptive reuse providing fully furnished small apartment units for short term rentals coupled with event space and the use of his co-working Station House is ingenious.”
Gianfilippo expects to start taking reservations for space in The Mason in about a month and a half, with occupancy targeted for spring or summer of 2020. Lease rates have not yet been announced, but Gianfilippo is sensitive to the perception that they will be expensive. That’s not the case, considering what tenants are getting, he said.
“We’re providing a live-work apartment that’s fully furnished, and a lot of people can’t afford both kinds of spaces,” he said. “When you look at the cost comparison between the two we’re trying to be the affordable guys in town. We’re the opposite of being expensive.”
Like Gianfilippo’s other projects, the building has historic significance. It was built for $200,000 as an office building in the 1920s, when it was dubbed St. Petersburg’s first skyscraper. He’s naming the project The Mason in honor of the contractor who built it, Franklin Mason, who also built the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and what is now the Princess Martha Hotel.