Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Business

Former offices become lofts as part of $100 million development in Kenwood

ST. PETERSBURG — Coral Gables developer Altis Cardinal says the loft apartments the company is building on the edge of Historic Kenwood will offer a stylish, urban alternative to higher-cost living in the city’s downtown.

The new apartments are part of an anticipated $100 million, 12-acre development emerging on a once moribund site between 34th and 31st streets and Fifth and Third avenues N.

The first of the one- and two-bedroom loft apartments will be carved out of a six-story office building that has long sat vacant. Until a few months ago, Altis had planned to demolish a similarly empty six-story building nearby. Now the firm says it will retain it as part of the Kenwood project.

Touting its reuse efforts and embrace of green space, Altis says it will use the former commercial properties to best advantage, converting them into a total of 156 lofts featuring 11-foot ceilings.

Frank Guerra, founding principal of Altis Cardinal, said it’s costly to build 11-foot ceilings. "That’s one of the benefits of repurposing a commercial building. And it comes with old-world charm and lends itself to a cool, chic refurbishment," he said.

But there are challenges, Guerra said.

"You’re constrained in working around what’s been built 50-plus years ago, rather than building it from scratch as you go," he said.

Brenda Gordon, president of the Historic Kenwood Neighborhood Association, is pleased that both buildings will be saved.

"I think anytime you can save an old building and repurpose it, it benefits the environment," she said. "I think it will be an asset to the neighborhood and to the city as a whole."

The decision to restore both structures is not the only change in Altis Cardinal’s multimillion-dollar plan first announced in June. The firm has also scaled back the number of apartment buildings it will construct. It now plans to build two three-story buildings and one four-story building, with a total of 98 apartments, in the vicinity of the new lofts.

Fewer buildings will allow for "more open space," Guerra said, making for what he termed, "a walkable, campus-style" setting.

"We are bringing more landscaping, more green space and more open areas," he said. "Usually, you don’t see such open spaces in an urban setting."

Gordon described a recent groundbreaking as "celebratory" and spoke of proposed amenities such as a dog park and the developer’s plans for surface parking rather than a garage. The overall plan will give the project an uncongested, "neighborly" feel, she said.

Altis is targeting the one- and two-bedroom units to singles and couples, with Guerra touting their proximity to downtown and their less expensive rents. He expects them to range from $1,000 to $1,600 a month.

"Across the board, we are talking about accessible price points for our workforce," he said.

Gordon believes the new units will attract young professionals. She added that the development will boost nearby Grand Central District with its restaurants and other businesses.

"One of the aspects of living in Historic Kenwood is being able to walk to Grand Central," she said.

The initial phase of the project — conversion of one commercial building, along with construction of two three-story apartment buildings — is scheduled to be complete by the second or third quarter of 2018.

The second phase, which includes the renovation of the other six-story building and construction of a four-story structure, should be finished during the second quarter of 2019, Guerra said.

He said his company will have invested $100 million when the entire Kenwood project is complete. Included in the overall development are the Skyline Fifth Apartments, with 178 units, which Altis bought in 2012. There’s also the 34th Street N site of the former Mosley Motel, where hundreds of poor families once lived. Altis, which acquired the Mosley in 2016, is building a four-story retail and self-storage facility on the site of the demolished motel. That part of the development is scheduled to be complete in March 2018.

Altis was attracted to the Kenwood location because of the potential of its underutilized land, Guerra said.

"We saw a neighborhood that north of Fifth Avenue was fully mature and vibrant homes that were renovated cottages from the 1920 and ’30s that were fully occupied, while to the south of Fifth Avenue, there were vacant properties not being used at all," he said.

"It showed us that there was a demand to live in this area. Because of the price at which we could buy it, we could provide modern living options at an accessible rent."

There are more investment opportunities in the neighborhood, Gordon said, mentioning vacant lots along First Avenue S and First Avenue N.

And, she added, "It would be great to see some of the rundown hotels along 34th Street be redeveloped one of these days.

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.

Comments
Help wanted: Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa has 250 jobs to fill

Help wanted: Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa has 250 jobs to fill

TAMPA — Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is holding a hiring event next week to fill more than 250 positions. The event will take place in the Hard Rock Cafe from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 24. Available positions include culinary, beverage, hotel, spa, ...
Published: 01/16/18
Airbus could abandon A380 superjumbo amid lackluster sales

Airbus could abandon A380 superjumbo amid lackluster sales

New York TimesThe days may be numbered for the world’s largest passenger aircraft.Airbus, the European aerospace group that makes the A380 superjumbo, said Monday that it would have to end production of the plane if its only major customer, Emirates,...
Published: 01/15/18
The closing of 63 Sam’s Club stores has big implications for small business

The closing of 63 Sam’s Club stores has big implications for small business

Special To The Washington PostLast week, Walmart announced that it would be closing 63 of its under-performing Sam’s Club stores at various locations throughout the country, including a South Tampa location.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: South Tampa Sam’s Club i...
Published: 01/15/18
Brawny pickups, futuristic SUVs star at Detroit auto show

Brawny pickups, futuristic SUVs star at Detroit auto show

Associated PressDETROIT — It’s the year of the pickup truck at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Ford unveil new trucks in a fast-growing and highly competitive U.S. auto market. Fiat Chry...
Published: 01/15/18
2017 still a deadly year for Tampa Bay pedestrians, bicyclists

2017 still a deadly year for Tampa Bay pedestrians, bicyclists

Another year gone, another year that Tampa Bay was one of the most dangerous places in the country for those walking or riding their bikes.More than 100 people were killed walking in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties in 2017, according to sta...
Published: 01/15/18
If Florida’s offshore oil rush ever happens, only one side of the state is likely to see it

If Florida’s offshore oil rush ever happens, only one side of the state is likely to see it

The offshore drilling rigs that pepper the central Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana and Texas tap some of the nation’s richest oil and natural gas reserves.That proven and profitable productivity is why the energy industry has pushed for decades to open ...
Published: 01/14/18
Large crowds grab deals as Sam’s Club prepares to close South Tampa location

Large crowds grab deals as Sam’s Club prepares to close South Tampa location

TAMPA — Large crowds have gathered to snap up some deals before the Sam’s Club in South Tampa closes its doors for good on Jan. 27.On Thursday, the retailer announced it was closing dozens of stores, including a location at 5135 S Dale Mabry Highway...
Published: 01/13/18
For the first time, the 3 best-selling beers in America are light beers. Can craft brewers catch up?

For the first time, the 3 best-selling beers in America are light beers. Can craft brewers catch up?

Is it time for the King of Beers to hand over its crown?Preliminary analysis of national 2017 beer sales indicates that, for the first time in decades, Budweiser is no longer one of the top three beer brands sold in the United States. Bud Light, whic...
Published: 01/13/18
Valley National launches ‘Pop-Up Moments’ campaign for Tampa Bay nonprofits

Valley National launches ‘Pop-Up Moments’ campaign for Tampa Bay nonprofits

Leaders from Valley National Bank/USAmeriBank surprised the students of two local schools, Ybor City’s Academy Prep, 1407 E Columbus Drive, and St. Peter Claver Catholic School, 1401 N Governor St., with donations of much-needed supplies. This happen...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/14/18
Lottery winner minefields: Financial planning, emotions, relationships

Lottery winner minefields: Financial planning, emotions, relationships

The biggest challenge for lottery winners isn’t the massive sum of money suddenly dropped into their lap — it’s everything else that comes with it. "They’re going to be pulled in a lot of different directions," Steve Athanass...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/13/18