Downtown Tampa's flat-lined condo market is showing some small signs of life.
Three separate high-rise projects are moving through the planning stages. One calls for twin 27-story towers north of the St. Pete Times Forum. The others are needle-shaped towers more than 500 feet tall east of the city's Whiting Street parking garage.
The developers received variances Thursday from the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board, serving in a new role of ruling on tall structures proposed near flight paths to Tampa International and three county general aviation airports.
The Federal Aviation Administration already said that the buildings posed no hazard to private planes flying in and out of nearby Peter O. Knight Airport.
So board chairman Al Austin, an office building developer, asked how soon the projects might begin with housing sales in a prolonged slump.
"I'm not quite sure of the plans," said Seth Schimmel, an attorney for Channelside Development LLC, which is proposing the twin condo towers, called Crescent Heights. "I can't say if it will be six months or. …"
Attorney Keith Bricklemyer, representing developers of Whiting Tower and Jefferson Tower, said it depended on how soon the housing market picks up.
As planned, the buildings will be remarkably thin and tall. Each would be built on a quarter of a square block — Whiting Tower on a corner of Whiting and Morgan streets, and Jefferson Tower on a corner of Whiting and Jefferson.
The spires of each tower would reach up more than 550 feet. Downtown Tampa's tallest building, 100 North Tampa, is 601 feet. Nearby, the Bank of America Tower tops out at 589 feet.
Developer representatives listed on the variance applications declined to talk about the projects or didn't return phone calls.
A Miami developer called Crescent Heights marketed two condo towers across Channelside Drive from the St. Pete Times Forum in the mid '90s that were never built.
Bricklemyer represented Swiss investors behind a 51-story condo tower called Four Seasons Residences on a block fronting Whiting Street. The project won approval from Tampa's City Council in 2004 but also folded before construction began.
Steve Huettel can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3384.