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Marriott hotel planned for new downtown St. Pete tower

A 50-story tower planned for the heart of downtown St. Petersburg will also include 325 condos, dining and shops.
New York’s Red Apple Group plans this approximately 50-story mixed used tower on the 400 block of Central Avenue. (courtsy of Arquitectonica
New York’s Red Apple Group plans this approximately 50-story mixed used tower on the 400 block of Central Avenue. (courtsy of Arquitectonica
Published Jan. 30, 2019

TAMPA — A 50-story tower planned for the heart of downtown St. Petersburg will include a Marriott hotel and "outdoor, high-end seating'' similar to that along Beach Drive.

Those were among the details revealed Wednesday by Robert Zorn of New York's Red Apple Group, which plans the mixed-use tower on the 400 block of Central Avenue.

The 200-room hotel will be part of Marriott's Autograph Collection, smaller boutique-like hotels with distinctive styles. Tampa's Epicurean Hotel across from Bern's Steak House is part of the brand.

Zorn said the tower project, which also will have 325 condos and 800 parking spaces, will "feed into the art community'' along Central Avenue and transform a key downtown block that has sat virtually unused for years. The hotel itself will be "pretty spectacular,'' he said, indicating there also would be places to dine and shop.

"The goal is to have a very active street,'' said Zorn, Red Apple's executive vice president, during an Urban Land Institute conference on 2019 real estate trends. "We look to make it a destination block (and) turn this into a central point of the city.''

Founded by billionaire John Catsimatidis, Red Apple is finishing two big real estate projects in New York and decided to build in St. Petersburg after acquiring the block at the "right time and the right place,'' Zorn said. The tower will rise close to both Beach Drive and the city's booming Edge District.

Catsimatidis, a long-time visitor of the area, "said, 'Bob, it's real important you build something I'm proud of, something I'm proud of architecturally. St. Pete's on a roll and I don't want to build a monstrosity that hurts the city,' '' Zorn recalled. "He also said, 'bring me a (return on investment) that makes a lot of money.''

Zorn said the project, designed by the Miami firm Arquitectonica, has a "capital base and backup'' financing.

Like other conference speakers, Zorn was bullish on the Tampa Bay area, which for the first time this year ranks as one of the nation's top 10 real estate markets. "We are extremely confident in this area in the long term,'' he said.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at smartin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

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