ST. PETERSBURG — A 9-acre lot in the Skyway Marina District is surrounded by the St. Petersburg College Allstate Center, Ceridian offices, a shopping center and Interstate 275.
That, city officials say, makes the property prime for development.
Last Friday, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced a step forward to that end: Tampa developer Phillips Development & Realty has plans to build 250 apartments with an additional 25,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space on the property, the mayor said while speaking at Ceridian on 34th Street S.
The undeveloped lot is located off 30th Avenue S and 34th Street, and is owned by Home Depot. The downturn scuttled the company's plans to build a big-box store on the parcel. The land was also once home to the LGBT-friendly Suncoast Resort, which closed in 2007.
"This is really good news for the city and the Skyway area," said St. Petersburg spokesman Kevin King.
The project is still in the "conceptual" phase, and the developer has not yet closed on the property, said Gary Jones, a senior planner in the city's economic development department.
"It's in the conceptual period right now and the project could change in the next several months," he said. "It's really up to the developer with what development they decide to move forward with."
The company will decide whether to close on the property by December, Jones said. In the meantime, he said Phillips will do due diligence — begin site work, scope out tenants and seek financing.
Representatives with Phillips could not be reached for comment.
Jones said the city could also use incentives to boost the project's viability. That includes a $50,000 incentive already appropriated for the first sit-down restaurant constructed and opened in the Skyway Marina District.
The Skyway Marina District plan recommends a $1 million incentive for the first mixed-use project in the district. That funding would have to be approved by the St. Petersburg City Council, and the figure isn't firm.
"We have to take a look at the project and see what incentives are appropriate," Jones said.
Council member Steve Kornell said the city could also expand its Skyway Trail system and should provide incentives "within reason."
Right now, the trail runs along 37th Street and turns west at 34th Avenue S by Clam Bayou and continues north. Phillips has requested that the trail be extended north to 30th Avenue S and east to their project site.
Kornell said this project, should it be finalized, would catalyze other development in the area. Jones ticked off a list of why companies should invest there: large property tracts uncharacteristic of other areas in St. Petersburg; access to the interstate and other major thoroughfares; proximity to water; large numbers of tourists and visitors; stable neighborhoods; and large employers.
The 250 apartments could especially appeal to those who work for the area's major employers, Kornell said. That includes Ceridian, Kobie Marketing and contract electronics manufacturer Jabil, which also has offices on the Ceridian campus.
"That's a place you could live and never even have to drive a car," Kornell said. "It's a unique development to have there."