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St. Petersburg selects proposal for downtown municipal building

The city chose Third Lake Partners and Echelon to buy and renovate the existing municipal center and build a new one a few blocks away.
St. Petersburg officials chose a partnership between Third Lake Partners and Echelon to purchase and redevelop the existing Municipal Services Center on Central Avenue and Fourth Street and build a new one several blocks away.
St. Petersburg officials chose a partnership between Third Lake Partners and Echelon to purchase and redevelop the existing Municipal Services Center on Central Avenue and Fourth Street and build a new one several blocks away. [ Third Lake Partners/Echelon ]
Published Feb. 19

ST. PETERSBURG — City officials selected Third Lake Partners and Echelon to purchase and redevelop the Municipal Services Center, which sits at the corner of Central Avenue and Fourth Street downtown, and build a new one a few blocks away.

The two sides agreed to a term sheet, which is an initial arrangement. City Council must still approve a development agreement before the relationship becomes official.

The joint venture between Third Lake Partners, a Tampa investment firm founded by Ken Jones and the Wanek family of Ashley Furniture, and Echelon, the St. Petersburg-based master developer for Carillon Park, proposed buying the municipal center for $12.25 million.

This rendering shows a proposed municipal office building and residential tower that a partnership between Third Lake Partners and Echelon has offered to build just north of St.  Petersburg City Hall.
This rendering shows a proposed municipal office building and residential tower that a partnership between Third Lake Partners and Echelon has offered to build just north of St. Petersburg City Hall. [ Third Lake Partners/Echelon ]

Under the terms outlined in the agreement, city employees will be allowed to remain in their offices for three years rent-free while Third Lake and Echelon build the new municipal center, which could include an apartment tower, on Second Avenue N between Fourth and Fifth streets, across from City Hall.

The city will use the $12.25 million from the sale of the existing municipal center to offset the cost of the new one.

Once the new building is built and city employees move into their new digs, Third Lake and Echelon will renovate the existing building, unlocking up to 120,000 square feet of office space. They will also open up the ground floor to dining or retail, energizing a critical block along Central Avenue that sits dormant, separating lively blocks to the east and the west.

Third Lake also owns 200 Central, the office tower southeast of the existing Municipal Services Center. That property includes a parking lot at the corner of Central Avenue and Third Street that Third Lake hopes to develop.

In their proposal, Third Lake and Echelon wrote that the parking lot is too narrow to support a parking garage, but a parking structure at the existing services center site could support parking for both developments.

“It’s going to allow us to create a very consistent sense of place,” Jones said.