Another new condo tower planned for downtown St. Petersburg

Another condo tower is planned for downtown St. Petersburg.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
 2016 file photo]
Another condo tower is planned for downtown St. Petersburg. [SCOTT KEELER | Times 2016 file photo]
Published September 6 2017
Updated September 6 2017

ST. PETERSBURG — In a case of back to the future, a 16-story condo tower is once again planned for a site in downtown St. Petersburg.

Hotel owner Steve Gianfilippo has filed preliminary plans with the city for Bezu, a 29-unit tower on 4th Avenue NE two blocks west of Beach Drive. Gianfilippo did not return calls and emails for comment, but the project reflects the continued demand for high-end condos near the city's premier waterfront dining and entertainment strip.

Gianfilippo's First & Fourth Development Co. bought the site for $1.4 million last year from Frank Menna, who had planned a 16-story tower of luxury condos before the market crashed in 2007. Menna later tried to resurrect the project as a 13-story tower with 16 condos but scrapped that idea, too.

"I had the high-rise thing going there and we had so many problems with this and that," he said in announcing two years ago that he and Gianfilippo instead would develop five New York-style brownstones at prices ranging from $1.75 million to $2.1 million.

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Because of potential parking issues, The Brownstones were scaled back to four units. Sales were slow but listing agent Bonnie Strickland said that was due to uncertainly over whether the three-bedroom, four--bath homes with rooftop gardens would ever be built.

"We had one of the four under contract and interest in the others," she said. "Everyone loved them — people want that square footage in that location — but they lost faith in the project."

Bezu will rise on a stretch of 4th Avenue NE that already has the Bliss and Rowland Place condos. Former Florida House Speaker Peter Rudy Wallace and his wife Helen also plan a small condo project next to the home they built on Beach Drive.

Gianfilippo owns several properties in downtown St. Petersburg including the 1920s-era Cordova Inn, the Coronet apartments and the 103-year-old Station House, future home of an Ichicoro Ramen restaurant.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate