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News at noon: Apartment projects planned for Gandy area, downtown St. Petersburg; numbers show surge in Baker Act exams of kids in Tampa Bay; governor-elect: North Carolina will repeal LGBT law; college football standouts skipping bowl games to prepare for NFL draft

The Miami-based Related Group is planning a four-story, 396-unit project just south of Gandy Boulevard and west of Westshore Boulevard. [BTI Partners]

The Miami-based Related Group is planning a four-story, 396-unit project just south of Gandy Boulevard and west of Westshore Boulevard. [BTI Partners]

Two major new apartment projects — one in downtown St. Petersburg, the other on the water in Tampa's Gandy Boulevard area — could start construction next year. The Miami-based Related Group, one of Florida's leading residential developers, announced Monday that it expects to close next week on the site of a 15-story, 354-unit apartment building at 801 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg's burgeoning Edge District. On the Tampa side of the bay, Related is planning a four-story, 396-unit project just south of Gandy Boulevard and west of Westshore Boulevard.

NUMBERS SHOW SURGE IN BAKER ACT EXAMS OF KIDS IN TAMPA BAY

The number of children taken into protective custody for mental health examinations has surged across the state and Tampa Bay. According to Department of Children and Families numbers obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, the total of minors evaluated in Florida under the Baker Act increased by 50 percent from fiscal year 2010 to 2015. In Pinellas County, the numbers rose by 41 percent, while more than doubling in Hillsborough.

GOV-ELECT: NORTH CAROLINA WILL REPEAL LGBT LAW ON TUESDAY

North Carolina legislators will repeal the contentious HB2 law that limited protections for LGBT people and led to an economic backlash, the state's incoming governor said today. Gov.-elect Roy Cooper made the announcement shortly after the Charlotte City Council voted to repeal its own local ordinance enacted in early 2016. It was that ordinance that Republicans blamed for the statewide law.

IBERIAN ROOSTER INTRODUCES COLONIAL PORTUGUESE FUSION TO ST. PETE

Colonial Portuguese food could be African or southeast Asian or sub-Sahara African or South American. Why did Russell Andrade, professional opera singer, bring this vision to St. Petersburg with his new restaurant Iberian Rooster? He says it's because he was hungry.

RUBIO HIRES CAMPAIGN MANAGER AS CHIEF OF STAFF

Sen. Marco Rubio has hired his re-election campaign manager, Clint Reed, as his chief of staff, while longtime aide Alberto Martinez will become senior advisor.

BEIJING DENIES U.S. CLAIM THAT CHINA IS SYNTHETIC DRUG KING

U.S. assertions that China is the top source of the synthetic opioids that have killed thousands of drug users in the U.S. and Canada are unsubstantiated, Chinese officials told The Associated Press.Both the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy point to China as North America's main source of fentanyl, related drugs and the chemicals used to make them.

REVIEW: NATALIE PORTMAN BRILLIANTLY PORTRAYS 'JACKIE'

With Jackie, Pablo Larrain spins a tale of dignified anguish and calculations less sympathetic. Anchored by Natalie Portman's uncanny impersonation — wispy voice, aristocratic posture — Jackie fascinates and frustrates, sometimes at once, Times movie critic Steve Persall writes.

WEIRD AND WACKY CHRISTMAS TREE ALTERNATIVES

When Marilynn Bockover of St. Petersburg's Spa 801 saw the torso of a dressmaker form turned into a festive but fab Christmas tree, she knew she had to have it for her trendy beauty and hair salon. That got us thinking about the many ways clever people turn a classic Christmas tree into something weird and wonderful. They take pop culture inspirations, add a little tinsel and a smartly placed tree topper and you get: A Prince tree saying Merry Princemas to all, a Grinch tree and more.

MCCAFFREY, FOURNETTE SKIPPING BOWLS TO PREPARE FOR NFL DRAFT

First, LSU standout running back Leonard Fournette announced that he'll skip the Tigers' bowl game (in Orlando) to rest an ankle injury and prepare for the NFL draft. Now Stanford star Christian McCaffrey is skipping his bowl game to get ready for the draft. Which prompted the Times' Matt Baker to ask some college football folks: Are we getting to a point where NFL-bound players skip their junior season entirely to get ready for the draft?

News at noon: Apartment projects planned for Gandy area, downtown St. Petersburg; numbers show surge in Baker Act exams of kids in Tampa Bay; governor-elect: North Carolina will repeal LGBT law; college football standouts skipping bowl games to prepare for NFL draft 12/19/16 [Last modified: Monday, December 19, 2016 11:56am]
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