TAMPA — A 212-unit apartment complex with 15,000 square feet of restaurant, retail and office space could be headed to a prominent section of S Howard Avenue, the latest example of the area's apartment boom.
SoHo Flats would replace a nearly vacant, rundown strip center just north of Morrison Avenue that once housed Joe Redner's popular gym, Xtreme Total Health & Fitness. The complex would cover a total of four parcels that include a laundry equipment supply company dating to the 1970s.
Plans submitted to the city by the Pollack Shores Real Estate Group show residential units ranging from efficiencies to three-bedroom apartments, restaurants with outdoor seating along Howard and a parking garage. Apartments have been in high demand among those who lost their homes through foreclosure or have shied away from owning a home since the real estate crash.
Anthony Everett, Central Florida partner for Pollack Shores, said he has been eyeing the site for 15 years and believes a residential project would be a good fit for the neighborhood.
"I've always felt that Howard Avenue is a terrific place," said Everett, who has worked on other real estate projects in the SoHo/Hyde Park area. "Demand is very high. People want to live there."
The sale of the properties is contingent on the city's approval of the project, which goes before the City Council for a rezoning on June 20. If approved, construction could start at the end of the year, with an opening date likely for the end of 2014, Everett said.
The project would coincide with other high-profile projects under construction within walking district along Howard. To the north is Post Properties' Post SoHo Square, a 231-unit apartment complex with retail space opening next year at Swann Avenue. To the south is the 137-room Epicurean Hotel opening in December across from Bern's Steak House.
SoHo Flats has vowed to work closely with residents to address any issues, Everett said. To accommodate ongoing concerns about the proliferation of bars along Howard, the two restaurant spaces would have to generate at least 51 percent of sales from food, he said. To avoid adding to the area's parking woes, the four-story garage would include more public parking spaces than the city requires.
The $33 million project would include a pocket park along Bristol and a pool area with a courtyard and fire pits. Units would rent for about $1,000 to $1,800 a month.
As part of the negotiations, Everett said the city has discussed using some of the developer's impact fee money on streetscape improvements along Howard. To reduce visual clutter from overhead power lines, the developer would bury them underground. Traffic would access the complex off Morrison and Eleta Street.
Gary Nash, owner of Equipment Sales Corp. at 2101 W Morrison Ave., said an upscale apartment complex would enhance the neighborhood as it continues to evolve into a walkable entertainment and restaurant district. His laundry equipment supply company is one of the area's last industrial uses.
"It will be a definitive improvement," he said. "From what we do, I don't need to be here."
Nash first learned of the project in November and will look for a new site if the deal goes through. Coral Gables-based Tampa Enterprises Inc., which owns the strip center, could not be reached for comment.
The strip center previously housed a preschool center, Choice Fitness gym and Cache Salon Studio, which recently moved to 1306 W Kennedy Blvd. The last tenant, Pro Health chiropractic care, plans to relocate to Dale Mabry Highway.
Atlanta-based Pollack Shores has developed or acquired 10 properties in Florida totaling 3,600 units and late last year broke ground on a $36 million apartment complex called NoHo Flats in an industrial enclave of Tampa's North Hyde Park.
Susan Thurston can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 225-3110.