Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bayfront Tower in downtown St. Pete getting $10M facelift

ST. PETERSBURG

The giant crane hovering near Bayfront Tower — the prestigious downtown waterfront address with valet parking and rooftop pool —- signals the start of a two-year, $10 million update for the Beach Drive condominium.

Built almost four decades ago, the facelift comes as Bayfront Tower finds itself being outshined by modern upstarts with names like Ovation, Signature and Vinoy Place.

"We are older, so we want to re-energize and re-enliven the building to position it more competitively in the newer marketplace," Ted Mallin, 62, president of the Bayfront Tower Condominium Association, said as the project commenced.

But not everyone is in accord with the decision.

Johnny Walker, 80, owner of five units that he rents, is against some aspects of the plan and the way it's being handled. In an email to other owners, he urged an individual vote on each of 11 improvements he views as discretionary.

"The common area just needs decorating and a new carpet and the dance floor sanded and revarnished," he said.

Walker, who doesn't live in the building but at Brightwaters Tower on Snell Isle, also questioned plans to renovate such areas as the fitness center, which he said is rarely used, the lobby and exterior.

"It appears to be a waste of money," he said.

Mallin, whose mother and stepfather were among Bayfront Tower's early residents, disagrees.

"My view is that as a board member, we want to do what is prudent to sustain the value and quality of life of the building, and we believe these improvements will do just that," he said.

A majority of Bayfront Tower's owners have approved the plan that includes updating the building's 1970s exterior, lobby and social areas. The the 360-degree rooftop views from the pool deck are to be enhanced with additional clear glass panels. Balconies, which will be updated to meet current codes, will get modern glass railings. In addition, many residents have chosen to install new, hurricane-resistant, floor-to-ceiling replacement windows.

The building's dated, decorative aluminum screen that veils its five-story garage also will get a new look. It's "old and tired," said Mallin, founder and president of Envision Architects, which has offices in New York and St. Petersburg. Envision will not be involved with the project.

"We're going to put up something new and attractive," he said, adding that neither the design nor updated exterior color scheme is set. "We want to make sure we are respectful of the budget of the owners so we don't have overruns."

On the more utilitarian side, the building will get a new roof, new emergency generators, boilers and fans. A number of air-conditioning systems will be replaced, and fire alarms will be upgraded and the automatic sprinkler system expanded in the garage and lobby.

The project is being financed over 10 years with a loan from Bank United and with association reserves. Mallin said owners will pay an average increase in maintenance fees of $98 a month, per unit, over the 10 years. They currently pay about $730 a month in fees.

Marguerite Dawson, 90, who has lived at Bayfront Tower since 1979, when she moved in with her late husband, said her cost will be about $130 a month.

"I love Bayfront Tower," she said.

Her concern is about the possible loss of the colorful mural in the lobby and adornments such as its chandeliers.

"I love the work … and I love the fixtures in the lobby," she said. "I think things like that are our signature and we shouldn't change them."

Mallin said the murals "will substantially remain."

"We're very early in the design," he said.

Like Walker, Dawson wondered about plans to renovate the fitness center.

"We need the roof done and we need the elevators improved," she said. "I believe in doing first things first. Those are the two main things."

Completed in 1975, the 28-story building at 1 Beach Drive SE has 255 condos, as well as commercial space. It has been home to some of the city's wealthiest and most influential residents. Former Gov. Charlie Crist lives here.

Its social status notwithstanding, Bayfront Tower has had its problems over the years. In 2003, a 2-year-old dispute about the cost of repairs led to an abrupt turnover of the association's board. A former Navy captain even challenged another condo owner to a dawn duel in Pioneer Park — Bayfront Tower's front yard.

There may have been no talk of swords this time, but Mallin acknowledged moderate dissension.

"When you have 255 owners, each of whom has an equal say about what should be done on the building, you are going to have a wide range of opinions," he said. "We sincerely believe that dissent is valuable, but at the same time, you have to make decisions and move forward."

And for the next few days, the 450-foot crane will continue its work, removing old material and mechanical equipment and hoisting into place the new.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283.

Bayfront Tower in downtown St. Pete getting $10M facelift 01/10/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 10, 2014 4:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Estimated 5,000 people marvel at MOSI over solar eclipse

    Human Interest

    Packing pinhole cereal box viewers, cardboard glasses and curiosity, solar gawkers gathered outside Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry on Monday for a show that required no ticket.

    At center, Sophia Butter, 8, and Kristina Butera, both of Valrico, watch the sun through eclipse viewing glasses during a solar eclipse party Monday at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. MOSI will reopen after renovations on November 18. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  2. Florida State sees plenty of upside in Dade City native Jacob Pugh

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — No, Florida State senior Jacob Pugh is not as versatile as teammate Derwin James.

     Florida State Seminoles linebacker Jacob Pugh (16) and Florida State Seminoles defensive end DeMarcus Walker (44) celebrate after sacking the Miami quarterback Saturday October 8, 2016 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
  3. Tampa officer treated for knee injury after police truck, police SUV collide

    Accidents

    Times staff

    TAMPA — A Tampa police officer was treated and released for a knee injury when his unmarked police truck collided with a patrol SUV while the officers were tracking a stolen car, a police spokesman said.

  4. Waiting for the eclipse: 'Everyone thinks this is cool'

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Hunter Holland came to school Monday with a NASA space T-shirt and solar viewers in his button-up shirt pocket. But he'd rather be in Missouri.

    Jayda Hebert (front, center), 11, uses her protective glasses to watch Monday's solar eclipse with her cousin, Judah Adams (back left), 11, and her brother Jake Hebert (right), 9, while with their family at St. Petersburg Beach. "We're skipping school for the eclipse," her mom, Sarah Hebert, said. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. Second person resigns from Hillsborough diversity council after Confederate activist appointed

    Blogs

    TAMPA — A second person has resigned symbolically from the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council after the appointment of a known activist of Confederate causes to the panel. 

    Two people have resigned from the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council after the inclusion of David McCallister, a leader of the local branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.