Three apartment projects are in the works that could change the dynamics of the area west of downtown St. Petersburg.
The renovation of the former Graham-Rogall public housing complex at 300 10th St. S and the completion of two new projects — Fusion 1560 at 1560 Central Ave., and Booker Creek Apartments at 2468 13th Ave. N — are welcome additions of city-centric housing that doesn't require a trek to the Gandy area.
From the outside, Graham-Rogall still looks much the same, like clutter in the backdrop of Tropicana Field. Its better days have long since passed.
But inside the towers, which were built in 1971 and 1978 to serve elderly and handicapped residents, there's a buzz of activity that signals a new twist for urban dwellers who prefer to live near downtown.
In May, the St. Petersburg Housing Authority agreed to sell the complex to local developer Phil Farley for $6.8 million. Farley is the developer of the Coquina Key Plaza at 4260 Sixth St. S, which completed renovations last year.
Farley's project, Urban Style Flats, will have 490 units. It will target young professionals and students at Eckerd College, Stetson University College of Law, USF St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg College.
Joe Milic of Mesh LLC, a bay area architecture and planning firm, is the concept designer. Milic also helped design Z Grille, Push Ultra Lounge and Burrito Boarder.
During a tour of the complex last week, Farley gave me a sneak peek at 10 models for studio apartments that start at $499 per month, unfurnished.
Most models are the creation of local designers William Templeton, Bruce Johnson, Valerie Bickford and Kelly McFredrick.
The designers are working to get the units ready in time for the fall semester. Farley and company are looking for ways to be environmentally friendly. The units I saw used LED lighting, and workers were tinting the windows.
"We wanted to create lofts, but it lacks the ceiling heights," said Farley. "But it has an urban feel."
A swimming pool will eventually be installed in the courtyard, he said, and the shuffleboard court removed. Additional amenities will be a convenience store, fitness center, art studio and glassed-in bicycle room just off the main lobby.
Farley's project should pump new life into the aging complex while offering affordable housing to students, young professionals and young artists that will complement the progress of the Grand Central District and the 600 block of Central Avenue, home to a cluster of art galleries.
Booker Creek Apartments, in the Kenwood area, will host its grand opening this month. The property sits just east of its namesake and will offer 156 apartments in the three-story complex. Units are two and three bedrooms, starting at $899. The smaller units are 969 square feet, with three-bedroom units topping off at 1,235 square feet.
Just northwest of Graham-Rogall, a blocklong apartment project that now hovers over Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill is abuzz with activity. The project, Fusion 1560, is a five-story, 325-unit complex set to open in October. Its apartments will start at $925 and go as high as $2,300, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Without a nearby grocery store, Ferg's stands to gain new customers.
"We're going to be it for the necessary items of life — beer and wings," general manager Peter Hodgdon said with a chuckle.
"We're really looking forward to it," he said. "We're going to be fan friendly with our neighbors and try to cultivate a neighborhood bar feel."
City leaders would be wise to get a grocery store in that area soon.
Sandra J. Gadsden in assistant metro editor, community news. She can be reached at email@example.com or at (727) 893-8874.