New York developer Red Apple Group closed on a $16.5 million deal for a coveted St. Petersburg land parcel Thursday.
The two-acre 400-block lot, which is currently vacant, is expected to house a 41-story residential building and other mixed-used space. It would be among the tallest skyscrapers in the area.
"We're all looking forward to what the Red Apple Group is planning," Mark Stroud, the broker on the 400-block sale, said Friday.
The block sold for less than ONE St. Petersburg, a similarly-sized project closer to the water. That parcel, which will also be about 41 stories, was bought by The Kolter Group in 2014 for $17.25 million. It was previously owned by St. Petersburg business owner and Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards.
Red Apple is owned by John Catsimatidis, a New York billionaire who owns Gristedes, a Manhattan grocery chain. He has familial ties to the St. Petersburg area, as his wife's siblings and her 97-year-old grandmother live there.
This deal marks his second recent purchase in St. Petersburg's urban core — Red Apple bought Florida Arcade on Central Avenue for $2.625 million in February. The 15,000-square-foot historic building is directly across from the newly purchased block.
Red Apple has yet to release details for what it plans for the arcade space. But as for the larger lot, Catsimatidis previously hinted at a grand vision. "St. Pete needs a skyline." he told the Times last year.
According to Stroud, the multi-million dollar contract has been in the works since June 2016. Catsimatidis previously said he anticipates a mix of office, hotel and retail space on the block in addition to the residential building.
Construction is expected to begin in about 15 months.
The new construction project is surrounded by a combination of historic and modern buildings. The city does not currently require that historic buildings be preserved.
The space where the new Red Apple project will stand was previously home to Pheil family buildings from the 1920s. A longtime landmark, the long-deteriorating building was known as "cheese-grater" structure because of its original aluminum siding. The lot also contained a rundown parking garage, all long abandoned.
Times files contributed to this report. Contact Malena Carollo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @malenacarollo.