1. Business

Tampa Bay's newest, tallest condo tower is almost done, and units already are being flipped for big bucks

A worker puts finishing touches on the sidewalk by a mural on the side of ONE St. Petersburg, which has 253 units and is the tallest condo tower on Florida’s west coast. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Published Dec. 6, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — Less than a month ago, an investor paid $511,200 for a unit in Tampa Bay's newest condo tower, ONE St. Petersburg.

This week, she sold it — for $702,000.

Though the 41-story tower in downtown St. Petersburg is not yet finished, several buyers already have moved in while others hope to quickly flip their units — at hefty profits — as the bay area's luxury condo boom continues unabated.

"There are definitely people who bought to resell,'' said Peggy Naruns, a Realtor who has a listing in ONE. "We expect that between 15 and 30 units will (soon) be available, with price increases of around 40 percent.''

Just a short block from the city's downtown waterfront, ONE St. Petersburg proved popular from the time it was announced four years ago as part of a $200-millon project that includes a Hyatt Place hotel. Buyers snapped up all 253 units, many taking advantage of pre-construction discounts offered by the developer, the Kolter Group of West Palm Beach.

New condo projects in Tampa have generated similar enthusiasm.

Two months after sales began last year at Virage on Bayshore Boulevard, more than half of the 71 units were under contract. All 32 units have been spoken for at Aquatica, also under construction on Bayshore. And reservations for condos in downtown's Riverwalk Place have been so brisk that developers decided to make the 50-plus story tower all residential instead of mixed use as originally planned.

The rush to buy reflects the demand for new construction in waterfront areas where the existing condo stock is showing its age. Virage, Aquatica and the proposed Sanctuary will be the first new condo towers on Bayshore in years. In downtown St. Petersburg, the Bayfront Tower dates to the 1970s and with one exception, every other tower is at least 10 years old.

"The way products develop now, flooring and cabinetry are out date in 10 years,'' said David Vann, an agent with a listing in ONE St. Petersburg.

Arguably, a buyer who can pay $1 million or more for a condo can afford to make updates. But "everybody does love that new construction,'' Naruns said.

ONE St. Petersburg, now the tallest residential building on Florida's West Coast, has a sleeker, more contemporary look than any tower nearby except the 36-story Signature Place built in 2008. Residents enter at First Avenue N and First Street through a glass-walled lobby with a soaring atrium, recessed concierge desk and muted colors and lighting. Amenities include state-of-the-art fitness equipment and "social" rooms with large flat-screen TVs for neighborly get-togethers.

With work still underway on ONE St. Petersburg's top floors, sales are closing in stages. As of this week, 50 buyers had finalized their purchases of units up to the 16th floor.

Actors Jennifer Lopez and John Travolta have been rumored to be among the buyers but sales recorded so far show that most are from the bay area or have seasonal homes here. Several own units in other downtown condos, including Signature Place and Parkshore Plaza.

Among the ONE St. Petersburg condos already back on the market is a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath unit on the 7th floor. Facing the water, it has 12-foot ceilings and three terraces.

The buyers, who live in St. Petersburg, liked that the rear terrace opens onto the pool level and would allow easy access to the street when walking their two large dogs.

"They thought they might like to live downtown,'' Vann said. "But they kind of got cold feet and didn't want to move since they have a large yard'' at their current home.

Though still debating what to do, the couple listed the condo with Vann for $1.929 million, $723,000 more than they paid. In the week it's been available, he and other agents have shown it several times.

Among the units that have changed hands is one bought for $657,400 and sold for nearly $900,000. Under contract is a 12th-floor condo that originally sold for $922,500 and is now listed at $1.2 million.

Naruns said the price increases aren't out of line, given the demand for high-end condos and especially for newer ones. The only other condo tower built close to Beach Drive within the last two years is Bliss, on Fourth Avenue N. There, a couple paid $1.6 million in August for a unit that had sold a year earlier for $979,900.

"That's an amazing markup,'' Naruns said.

For condos in general, St. Petersburg's market is strong in what Realtors call the "Five to Five'' — the area of between Fifth Avenue N and Fifth Avenue S — where people can easily walk to restaurants, museums and theaters. In the last six months, 92 condos have sold for $500,000 to $3.3 million.

Demand has increased for units in Signature Place, where banks temporarily stopped lending after the condo association sued the developer and others over design flaws and construction defects. Prices and sales plunged while purchases could only be made in cash.

The lawsuit has been resolved, the problems have been fixed and lending has resumed. Thirteen Signature Place units have sold in recent months for as much as $1.255 million. That's good news for owners who plan to sell and move into ONE St. Petersburg.

The success of ONE and other downtown condos has developers itching to build even more near the city's downtown waterfront. Jorge Perez, whose Related Group developed many South Florida luxury towers, spent an hour walking along Beach Drive early this year scouting for a possible site. But with no vacant land, the only alternative would be to knock down an existing building.

One that has been mentioned is the Hampton Inn, a low-rise hotel with a prime location on Beach Drive. The Hampton is also directly in front of ONE St. Petersburg, and a taller replacement could block the water views for at least some of ONE's condos.

The Hampton's developer and owner, J. Michael Cheezem, said he has no intention of selling it.

Even if the hotel site was sold, it would be years before anything would be built on it.

Narun notes that ONE St. Petersburg also has striking city views, including of the new James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art with its dramatic turquoise and sandstone facade.

Prospective buyers who have viewed condos in ONE "loved that they done such a good job with that museum,'' she said. "It used to be just a parking garage.''

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


  1. A citrus grove in eastern Hillsborough County. [Times (2017)]
    The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is predicting a 3.3 percent increase for the struggling industry.
  2. Gas prices may go up as much as 5 cents this week, AAA, The Auto Club Group, said. Pictured is a man filling up at a gas station in St. Petersburg in 2017. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times  (2017)] SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Gas dropped 10 cents on average in Tampa Bay last week and 6 cents on average in Florida.
  3. Artist Danny Acosta completes re-lettering  of the Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S.A. marker in Key West after much of the paint was stripped off in Hurricane Irma in 2017. [Florida Keys News Bureau via the Associated Press]
    Less than 10 percent of U.S. counties are "vacation home'' counties.
  4. The Maple Street Biscuit Company opened in April on the 600 block of Central Avenue. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
    The popular Jacksonville biscuit shop has recently opened a handful of Tampa Bay locations.
    A frustrated business card user learns that his on-time payments don’t boost his personal credit score.
  6. Regina Temple is the new president and CEO at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. HCA West Florida
    Read this and more Pasco County business news.
  7. The City Council has called for consultants to design an outdoor concert pavilion with a fixed covering over 4,000 seats in the middle of its proposed overhaul of the downtown waterfront. That decision is causing some friction in the city as officials prepare to present preliminary design drawings to the public. City of Clearwater
    Some in the city are divided over Clearwater’s $64.5 million plan.
  8. Tampa Bay workers are more likely than employees in other metros to quit because of a boss they don’t like, according to a recent survey. Pictured are job seekers at a Tampa job fair in June. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times] JONES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Tampa Bay and Miami tied for the percentage of employees who quit because of a boss.
  9. Recent sunny day flooding in Shore Acres, a St. Petersburg neighborhood vulnerable to rising sea levels. [Times] Susan Taylor Martin
    The organizations will explore the impact of climate change on Florida.
  10. The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences - Pasco Extension opened an incubator kitchen on Sept. 23. It's  at 15029 14th Street in Dade City. The goal of the kitchen is to create educational opportunities for food entrepreneurs and help them to start new businesses. Whitney Eleamor (center left) developed the idea for the kitchen. PAIGE FRY  |  Paige Fry
    The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last week for the Pasco County Extension Service community kitchen.