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Proposal submitted for 45-story condo tower, 225-room hotel in downtown St. Pete

Red Apple Group expects to break ground next year.
The  45-story condo tower and 225-room hotel planned for downtown St. Petersburg. [Courtesy of Arquitectonica] [Arquitectonica]
The 45-story condo tower and 225-room hotel planned for downtown St. Petersburg. [Courtesy of Arquitectonica] [Arquitectonica]
Published Sep. 5, 2019
Updated Sep. 5, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — A 45-story condo tower and a 225-room hotel could start rising next year on a once-derelict block in the heart of St. Petersburg.

New York’s Red Apple Group on Thursday submitted a site plan application to the city for the $300 million project, which also would include more than 800 parking spaces and a total of 45,000 square feet of office and retail space.

John Catsimatidis, the billionaire head of Red Apple, said the project is "very, very special'' to him.

"My wife’s parents lived here for 35 years and I feel St. Pete is my second home,'' he said in a phone interview. "For 35 years my wife’s father talked to me about investing in St. Pete and I finally did.''

Two years ago, Red Apple paid $16.5 million for the entire 400 block of Central Avenue after the previous owners demolished a decrepit garage and two long-vacant buildings. Though preservationists argued that the buildings had historic value and were worth saving, their deteriorating condition ultimately sealed their fate.

In their place is planned:

  • A 45-story tower with approximately 300 one- to -four bedroom residences "with exquisitely designed interior finishes, wrap-around balconies and magnificent water views,'' a release said. Amenities would include a landscaped sundeck with pool, an outdoor kitchen, dining space and a dog park; and a fitness center, a spa and a lounge. The tower, oriented to allow for views of Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, would be the tallest residential building on Florida’s West Coast, taller than the recently completed, 41-story ONE St. Petersburg a few blocks to the east.
  • A 225-room full-service hotel with more than 15,000 square feet of banquet and meeting space, and a rooftop pool with a casual dining area. Red Apple has previously indicated that the hotel would be part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The condo tower and hotel would be connected by a so-called "podium'' with parking for more than 800 vehicles.
  • 20,000 square feet of Class A office space with an entrance off Central Avenue.
  • More than 25,000 square feet of stores and restaurants along Central Avenue and Fourth Street N.

Mayor Rick Kriseman, who had pressed Red Apple for more office and event space than initially proposed, praised the project as an “"important step’' and an "exciting development'' on an empty piece of land.

"As we have continued to talk with John and the Red Apple team, they have been receptive to our input,'' Kriseman said. "With this project, they are delivering in a big way, without having to build a taller structure as originally envisioned. I appreciate their work on this, their commitment to much-needed office space and John’s commitment to our community.''

The application filed Thursday sets in motion a city staff review of the project. Red Apple is not asking for any variances so it probably will not need to go before the city’s Development Review Commission or City Council.

Catsimatidis, whose company has built even larger residential projects in the New York City area, said he intends to retain ownership of the hotel, retail and office components in the St. Petersburg development.

The buildings were designed by Arquitectonica, a Miami firm known for its dramatic contemporary structures. Smith & Associates Real Estate will be the exclusive listing agent for the condos, as it was for ONE St. Petersburg and several other Tampa Bay condo towers.


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