Plans are underway to transform a former St. Petersburg strip mall into a mixed-use development with some rent-stabilized apartments.
Local real estate investment firm Stoneweg purchased the Coquina Key shopping plaza, located at 4350 Sixth St. S, for $7.3 million last year.
According to plans submitted to the city, Stoneweg will build 458 apartments, 20% of which will be reserved for tenants who make between 80% and 120% of the area median income. That’s between $65,700 and $98,520 for a four-person household in Pinellas County.
Amenities will include a pool and a dog park. There will also be 21,000 square feet of retail space.
Kyle Parks, a spokesperson for Stoneweg, said it is using private funding sources to build this project and will not receive government subsidies or tax credits. The developer will use the city’s “Workforce Housing Density Bonus Program” in order to maximize the number of allowed units.
“Our goal with the redevelopment of Coquina Key is to spark positive change in the community without disrupting it,” said Sharmane Bailey, Stoneweg’s associate director of corporate communications. “Our hope is to deliver a quality product that brings workforce housing to the community, supports small local businesses, and encourages other developers and retailers to invest in this area of St. Petersburg.”
More than 75 people submitted public comments to the city about the proposal. Some neighbors have criticized the project through an online petition.
One point of contention is the height of the development, which will reach seven stories at its peak. Current zoning restrictions allow for a maximum of four stories. Stoneweg is asking the city to change the zoning accordingly.
Only one part of one building will reach seven stories, according to plans from the developer. Parks explained that the tallest portion of that building will be in the center of the property so that it does not tower over the single-family homes nearby.
Neighbors also raised concerns about the lack of a major grocery store that could replace the Save-a-Lot that once stood at the shopping plaza. The shopping center also previously had a CVS pharmacy.
“This zoning change will allow Stoneweg to dramatically increase the population in the area, while simultaneously dramatically reducing the retail space needed to service that population,” Walter Borden, president of the nearby Bahama Shores Neighborhood association, wrote in a public comment to the city. “Closing the only grocery store in the area and not replacing it leaves the community and their new tenants in a food desert.”
Parks said Stoneweg has reached out to more than 15 supermarket chains but none has expressed interest in renting space at the property.
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“We continue to try to find a smaller, local grocer to occupy one of the spaces allocated for retail,” he said in an email. “In total, we’d like to secure an additional 6-7 vendors offering quality supplies and services to the community.”
Stoneweg will present its proposal to the St. Petersburg Community Planning and Preservation Committee on Tuesday. The project must also receive approval from the development review commission and the City Council.
If all goes as planned, construction is expected to begin this fall.