ST. PETERSBURG — UPC Insurance has submitted plans for a $91.5 million expansion that includes a sleek new corporate headquarters, a 17-story hotel and a parking garage near St. Petersburg’s Edge District.
It is the third new hotel planned or under construction in what has become one of Tampa Bay’s trendiest areas.
The project at 800 Second Avenue S would encompass an existing three-story building plus new structures on 4.6 acres — most of which is now used for surface parking — that UPC is buying from the city for $5 million.
Rising on the northeast corner of the site would be the 180-room hotel with a three-story parking garage to its west. Located between the existing building and the new four-story, 150,00-square-foot office building would be a private open space with meditation garden. A larger open space visible from public sidewalks would lie between the new headquarters and the garage.
All three new buildings would be in a modern architectural style, with the office building and hotel made of glass and metal and the garage clad with metal fins mimicking the metal used on the other two structures.
St. Petersburg’s Development Review Commission already has deemed the project consistent with the city’s Intown Redevelopment Plan, aimed at fostering development that maintains "the historic, cultural and aesthetic integrity'' of a 308-acre area stretching from the downtown waterfront to Tropicana Field. Recent projects consistent with the plan are the nearby Publix and the Hermitage and 930 Central apartments.
The UPC project would replace the “under-utilized'' parking lot and create "a pleasurable and safe walking system,'' according to the company’s proposal. Improvements would include trees, landscaping, lighting and widening of the public sidewalk to 10 feet. City staff has recommend approval of the project pending review of final building plans.
As development continues to spread west from downtown, the Edge and Grand Central Districts attract growing numbers of tourists with their shops, restaurant and soon, hotels. The proposed UPC hotel would be a few blocks from a Marriott-managed boutique hotel at First Avenue N and 11th Street that is now in the permitting stage. And under construction on Central Avenue at 17th Street is a seven-story, 132-room Tru by Hilton.
St. Petersburg-based UPC, founded in 1999, provides commercial, residential, homeowners and flood insurance in select states.