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Third Lake expects more projects in St. Petersburg

Margie Manning

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City Council member Brandi Gabbard (at podium) at the groundbreaking for WaterView at Echelon City Center. Looking on (from left): Susan Johnson, executive vice president, Echelon LLC; Mayor Rick Kriseman; Darryl LeClair, chairman, president and CEO, Echelon LLC; and Ken Jones, chairman and CEO, Third Lake Partners

Third Lake Partners is eyeing additional development in the Gateway area of St. Petersburg.

That’s according to Ken Jones, chairman and CEO of Third Lake Partners, a private investment company that is partnering with Echelon LLC on WaterView at Echelon City Center, a 15-story luxury apartment building with 226 rental apartments, 13,400-square-feet of ground floor retail and structured parking.

It’s the first deal Third Lake Partners and Echelon have done together, but Jones indicated more deals could be ahead.

“We’ll have more projects here on this site in the future. I can’t tell you what they are quite yet, but we’ve got our eyes on that,” Jones told the St. Pete Catalyst after a groundbreaking for WaterView Monday morning.

The project is one of several underway at Echelon City Center, a 20.5 acre development that, when completed, will have hundreds of thousands of square feet of office and retail space, a 120-key hotel and residential units, with a Topgolf entertainment center planned nearby. It’s within Carillon Office Park, home to some of the largest employers in St. Petersburg, with more than 18,000 employees and more than 3,800 residents, said Darryl LeClair, Echelon chairman.

“Echelon City Center eventually will be home to more retail, more office buildings, more apartments and definitely entertainment,” LeClair said.

Mayor Rick Kriseman said the project will be “transformational” for the area.  “Today is a day in which we can remind everyone that St. Pete is booming all over,” Kriseman said.

City Council member Brandi Gabbard, who represents District 2 in northeast St. Petersburg, said there’s a lot of potential for growth.

“With numerous business and industry partners, we’ve created a vibrant economic engine that has provided jobs for so many. With the addition of WaterView and other residential communities coming online, we’re going to start to see that vibrancy turn into a true community – one where everybody can realize the vision of living working and playing all in their own backyard,” Gabbard said.

The term, “live work play,” gets overused, Jones said. “But in this instance, it really does apply. This area is going to continue to grow. It will continue to be the epicenter of Pinellas County.”

It’s late in the real estate cycle so Third Lake is being “selective,” about future projects, Jones said, but WaterView and the partnership with Echelon were too good to pass up.

“This represents the best piece of developable property in all of St. Petersburg,” Jones said.

Several years ago, LeClair proposed that Echelon City Center house a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, and he won zoning approval for more intense development at the site. While the stadium never materialized, the ability to develop the area remained, Jones said.

“It’s almost like a blank canvas right now. It’s a lot of acreage. Pinellas County is one of the most densely populated counties in the United States, so to find a piece of dirt this big that’s still got entitlements with a really good plan – it’s hard to find that. So we thought it as a no brainer,” Jones said.

Third Lake Partners is heavily invested in downtown St. Petersburg as well. It provided financial backing for ONE St. Petersburg, a 41-story condominium and currently the tallest building in St. Petersburg, and it owns 200 Central, the tallest office building in Pinellas County.

Jones also is chairman and CEO of TL Capital (formerly Third Lake Capital), a family office for the Wanek family, the owners of Ashley Furniture HomeStores.

WaterView groundbreaking from St. Pete Catalyst on Vimeo.

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