ST. PETERSBURG — Plans for two office buildings and a parking garage at the Gateway Business Park were approved Wednesday —for the third time — by the Development Review Commission.
Previous approvals lapsed and developer Grady Pridgen offered the DRC no guarantees that the project expansion would actually be built this time.
The 33.5-acre site plan calls for two four-story, 100,000-square-foot office buildings and a four-story, 1,038-space parking garage at 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 Gandy Blvd.
The project was originally approved in 2000 by the Environmental Development Commission, the predecessor to the present DRC. Extensions were granted in 2001 and 2002, before the project approval expired in 2003.
Pridgen then applied and was granted reapproval of the site plan in 2005. The project approval again lapsed in 2006 when Pridgen failed to request an extension.
The plan is virtually identical to previously approved plans.
However, because of changes in the city's land development regulations (LDRs), the city is requiring an additional 2.5 acres to be devoted to grassy or landscaped areas.
Previously, city rules restricted the impervious surface area to no more than 85 percent of the site. That restriction is now no more than 75 percent.
"It is hard enough to survive out there today. This (requirement) doesn't make any sense for us," Pridgen said, adding that reducing paved parking areas could "destroy" the Gateway project.
Since the Gateway Business Park was developed beginning in 1999, employers based there include Jabil Circuit, L3 Communication, Compass Group and MTS Mediation Inc.
City zoning official Philip Lazzara told the commission that granting Pridgen's request would "undermine the integrity" of the city's new LDRs.
Despite, Pridgen's plea, the DRC included the new impervious surface area requirements in its approval of the site plan.
In other action the DRC:
• Approved the University of South Florida's request to vacate an east-west alley and utility easement in a block bounded by Sixth Avenue S, First and Third streets S and Bayboro Harbor. The vacation will enable implementation of an approved campus master plan calling for a number of enhanced pathways for pedestrians and bicycles throughout the campus. Case no. 08-32000018, E-3
• Approved two requests for special exceptions and site plan approval for parking lots in residential neighborhoods. One request calls for a seven-space parking lot at 6010 Magnolia St. N that will be used by employees of an adjacent medical office building. The other request was for a five-space parking lot at 2817 10th St. N, and will be used for Rollin' Oats Market employee parking. Views of neighboring homes in both areas will be buffered by an vinyl, opaque fence. Case no. 08-32000026, F-32; Case no. 08-32000027, G-16