ST. PETERSBURG — A big construction site houses big plans across the street from Ferg's sports bar and Tropicana Field.
Fusion 1560 apartments at 1560 Central Ave., tentatively scheduled to open in the summer of 2010, will provide the downtown area with its first big apartment complex in years.
After years of the condominium craze, which extinguished with the decline in housing sales, developer Nicholas Husak of the Zaremba Residential Co. thinks that rentals are exactly what the market needs right now.
"We are designing an apartment community that will serve renters that are seeking a lifestyle and amenities of a condominium but with the professional management that comes of an apartment community," said Husak. The project will cost nearly $51 million.
The change represents a paradigm shift for St. Petersburg's downtown in what the city's managing director for development coordination Kevin Dunn said is catering to an increasingly "urbanite" population of younger professionals.
"It's become more of an attractive place and location for that kind of generation subsets to live in," Dunn said. "After the Madison project, which was originally envisioned as a rental product, the market was going so crazy with condos they decided to make that a condominium project as well, so this is certainly the first (rental) one of this size."
The five-story complex will have 326 apartment units with one- and two-bedroom models. Units will range from 550 to 1,200 square feet and will rent for $900 to $1,500.
Husak said more specific details about interior features will be available as the year progresses. Developers hope that it will also contain six retail shops at ground level.
"I think historically the prices of real estate in downtown could only attract for-sale builders," Husak said. "The economics were difficult to obtain, given that landowners had alternatives to apartment-home developers."
A few local business owners are excited about the construction. "That's 600 people at least that will be living there," said Mark Ferguson, owner of Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill. "They'll need to eat three meals a day, whether they like it or not. We'll deliver to them, and on game nights they can stumble their way home."
The section off Central Avenue where the construction is taking place is turning into an expanding attraction for shoppers in a mixed-use style community. Despite the economic downturn, the area has been steadily increasing in traffic.
One example across the street is Sunflowers Plaza, which has had new businesses move in recently including a coffee shop and a vegetarian cafe. That plaza also features several apartments.
Austin Bogues can be reached at email@example.com or (727)893-8872.