New York style brownstones planned for downtown St. Petersburg

The high-end homes are expected to start at $1.3 million initially.
Published July 29 2015
Updated July 30 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — Five high-end, New York-style brownstones are now planned for the downtown St. Petersburg site where a 16-story luxury condo tower once was proposed.

Frank Menna, who owns the vacant lot on First Street N and Fourth Avenue, said Wednesday that the new project is a joint venture with hotel and restaurant owner Steve Gianfilippo.

"I had the high-rise thing going there and we had so many problems with this and that,'' Menna said. "I love downtown and hate giving up that property but this is going to be beautiful.''

The Brownstones, as the project is called, will have a row of five 4,000-square-foot homes with roof decks and space below for doctor or lawyer offices, Menna said. Each brownstone will have an elevator and garage.

Preconstruction prices are expected to range from $1.3 million to $1.8 million.

The site, which had been for sale for just under $2 million, is two blocks off Beach Drive with its many shops and restaurants.

Fourth Avenue has seen a flurry of development, including the 18-story Bliss condo tower now under construction and the recently completed Rowland Place, a mid-rise with 17 condo units.

Gianfilippo did not return calls for comment and no plans had been filed with the city as of Wednesday afternoon.

Last year, he bought the 32-room Pier Hotel on Second Avenue N for $1.35 million, restored its original 1920s ambiance and renamed it the Cordova Inn.

In late 2013, he paid $3 million for a 104-year-old building on First Avenue S that now houses the popular Station House restaurant.

Menna, who once owned a residential and retail complex at John's Pass, bought the downtown St. Petersburg site in 2005, razed old buildings and planned a 16-story tower of luxury condos crowned with a $1.5 million penthouse.

When the market nosedived, Menna mothballed the project only to try to resurrect it again in 2012, this time as the 13-story Marantha with 16 condos.

Menna, who spends his summers in New York, said he will own one of the Florida brownstones.

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