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Downtown St. Petersburg office tower acquired, will get renovation

The 17-story First Central Tower, shown being struck by lightning in 2012, was hailed as the start of a turnaround for the sleepy city center when it opened in the early 1980s. Now it is part of a resurgent and bustling downtown scene.
The 17-story First Central Tower, shown being struck by lightning in 2012, was hailed as the start of a turnaround for the sleepy city center when it opened in the early 1980s. Now it is part of a resurgent and bustling downtown scene.
Published Nov. 26, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — At its groundbreaking in the early 1980s, the new office tower at 360 Central Ave. was hailed as a turnaround for what everyone conceded was a dead downtown.

Three decades later, downtown is booming and what began as the Florida Federal Savings & Loan tower is getting new owners and a $10 million facelift.

In a vote of confidence in downtown's resurgence, Larry Feldman announced this week that a joint venture of his Feldman Equities and two other companies has acquired the 17-story, 250,000-square-foot building at the corner of Central Avenue and Fourth Street.

The group plans an extensive renovation of the glass-sheathed tower, plus an "amenity package'' that will include a concierge desk, a luxury fitness center and a lounge area with large flat-screen TVs, iPad chairs and free Wi-Fi.

Now called First Central Tower and anchored by BB&T Bank, the former Florida Federal headquarters is squarely in the midst of a downtown teeming with restaurants, shops, museums, galleries and late-night entertainment.

Additionally, thousands of new condos and apartments are either planned or under construction within a few-block radius.

"Downtown St. Petersburg has a higher quality of life than almost any other downtown in the state,'' Feldman said in a release. "We are thrilled to be a part of this reurbanization trend.''

First Central Tower is the third downtown acquisition by Feldman and Orlando-based Tower Realty Partners, which also own the nearby City Center and Morgan Stanley Tower. Both of those were built in the 1980s, have undergone major renovations and are almost fully leased.

The group's other major holding is the 22-story Wells Fargo Center in downtown Tampa.

Joining Feldman/Tower Realty in acquiring First Central Tower was a Vancouver, British Columbia, company, Second City Real Estate. No price was given for the transaction.

First Central had been owned by Osprey S P Properties, a Michigan company that bought it for $17.5 million in 2001.

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