ST. PETERSBURG — An historic building and a parking lot in the heart of St. Petersburg’s thriving Edge District have been bought for $13 million by a South Florida firm that plans to redevelop the site.
No details have been announced, but the property on Central Avenue between 11th and 13th Streets could be eligible for tax breaks as an "opportunity zone'' — an investment vehicle created under the 2017 federal tax act to provide incentives for investing in low-income areas. Qualifying projects can include hotels and other developments that create jobs.
As part of the transaction, Miami-based PTM Partners purchased a nearly century old building now home to Furnish Me Vintage, a popular store that specializes in midcentury furniture, retro artwork and vintage records. The store’s owners could not immediately be reached but have indicated in the past that they would find another location.
The sale price also includes the large parking lot next door and two smaller parcels.
"As of now, we’re not commenting outside of the sale announcement as plans are not final'' said Thiago Viana, a spokesperson from PTM. "Once we can offer more color, we will be sure to reach out to you.''
The seller was Tricera Eastman, LLC, a partnership between Miami-based Tricera Capital and St. Petersburg developer Jonathan Daou. Tricera and Daou both own several properties in and around the Edge District.
Daou said Thursday that he and Tricera will be "minor partners'' and invest part of their $13 million proceeds in the redevelopment of the site.
The three-story building will be preserved and "likely repositioned for local businesses,'' Daou said. "That was part of our sale agreement, that the building would be used again.''
Dating to 1926, the building was in the city’s Gas Plant District, an historically African-American neighborhood named for two gas towers that stood where Tropicana Field now is. Still called the Gas Plant Building, it has served as a chicken slaughterhouse — "I heard they used to throw chicken necks out the windows,'' Daou said — an antique mall and most recently, Furnish Me Vintage.
Store owners Todd Wilson and Jackie Williams started what became one of the nation’s leading dealers in midcentury furniture in their garage in 2010. They bought the Gas Plant Building in 2014 for $1.2 million and sold it last year to Tricera Eastman for $3.4 million.
Although it is a trendy area of restaurants and shops, the Edge District was designated one of Tampa’s Bay area’s 67 opportunity zones, where investors in projects that help low-income residents could reap substantial breaks on capital gains taxes. While the Tampa Bay Rays were considering a move to Tampa, Ybor City was designated an opportunity zone so construction of a stadium could have been financed in part by money from investors seeking the tax breaks.
Michael Tillman, chief executive of PTM Partners, told the New York Times in May that his company had an opportunity zone site under contract in St. Petersburg — the one just purchased — and already was working on multi-family housing developments in Miami and a former FBI office building in Washington D.C.
The goal with opportunity zone projects is to select markets “where long-term growth factors are present or in some areas they have already commenced,” he said at the time.