It seems we can't drive around the Tampa Bay area these days without running into yet another big new building project. Almost a decade into the recovery from the Great Recession, construction continues unabated as more and more developers from outside the area seek to capitalize on Tampa Bay's booming population and job growth. Here are three projects you might have seen and wondered about.
The Exchange — St. Petersburg's Innovation District touts itself as the largest cluster of education, health and research facilities in the Southeastern United States. Encompassing a puzzle-piece shaped area south of Central Avenue and east of Interstate 275, the district includes two major hospitals, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and the Coastal and Marine Science Center.
Despite thousands of new apartments going up downtown and in the Edge and Grand Central districts, there haven't been many new ones built in the Innovation District to accommodate the many young professionals working there. That's about to change with the Exchange, a five-story, 132-unit mid-rise on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street S near where Interstate 175 exits onto Fifth Avenue S.
"It's just a phenomenal area that is growing,'' says Kristen Gucwa-Fuechslin, a marketing executive with the developer, Connecticut-based Richman Group Development Corp. "You're right down the street from a lot of restaurants, retail. You have the Rays stadium right there.'' Richman, one of the nation's largest apartment owners, expects to finish the one- , two- and three-bedroom apartments in December; rents have yet to be set.
American House St. Petersburg — A company based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. has selected the northeast corner of 66th Street and Ninth Avenue N close to Tyrone Square Mall as the site for its ninth senior living center in Florida and first in the Tampa Bay area.
American House and its partner in the project, Dallas-based Prevarian Senior Living, recently broke ground for the 165-unit facility that will offer independent living to memory care services in a "resort-style setting.'' Amenities will include a pool, spa, theater, salon and fitness center.
"Senior housing is needed in that area and the site is in a fantastic location, in a great community with wonderful neighbors,'' said Jacqueline Trost, American House's vice president of marketing.
The neighbors weren't happy about previous plans for the property, once owned by the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg. In the mid-2000s, the Sembler. Co. asked the city for rezoning to build 48 townhomes, offices and a Publix-anchored shopping center there, sparking outrage among nearby residents who said there already was enough commercial development in the area. City of St. Petersburg staffers agreed: "There are nine shopping centers within two miles of this site,'' then-city planner Rick MacAulay said at the time. "We have enough commercial land to satisfy the city's needs for the next 20 years.''
Nonetheless, city council approved rezoning. But then the market changed and Sembler connected the diocese with a developer who had plans for a continuing care residential community. That developer is no longer in the picture but Prevarian, which had the same vision for the site, bought the corner in March for $5.18 million.
Alta Gateway — Pinellas Park is going through an apartment boom, thanks in large part to its location in Pinellas County's Gateway area. Long a manufacturing and retail hub, "The Park,'' as some residents call it, has easy access to Tampa, downtown St. Petersburg and parts north via I-275, Gandy Boulevard and U.S. 19. Near or on those major roads, four substantial apartment projects are under construction: the 274-unit Allure, the 274-unit Satori, the 82-unit Palmetto Pointe and the newest, Alta Gateway at the junction of U.S. 19 N and 49th Street.
Atlanta-based Wood Partners, a major national apartment developer, paid $7.33-million in March for the 10 acres on which it is building 288 units and a dog park. (A long-closed Saab car dealership last occupied the site.) Shannon Coughlin, Pinellas Park's economic development manager, said the level of multi-family housing construction is probably unprecedented
"We don't have 1,000 apartments at one time in a 16-square-mile city,'' she said.
If you're curious about any big construction sites you see, let us know and we'll try to find out what's going there!
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at email@example.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.