ST. PETERSBURG — If the stature of the forthcoming One St. Petersburg condo tower is a measure of the demand for luxury living downtown, the biggest phase in this city’s residential boom is still yet to come.
The 41-story high-rise planned in the heart of the city will become St. Petersburg’s tallest building and stand among the loftiest buildings in the Tampa Bay area.
At a glitzy grand opening event Thursday evening, developers said they already have booked $50 million in pre-sale reservations at a sales office at 100 First Ave. N. that quietly started up just before the New Year.
Kolter Group also announced that Hyatt will operate a 13-story hotel linked to the condominium on the west end of the 2.2-acre site, across the street from the clubs and restaurants of the Jannus Block on Second Street North.
One St. Petersburg will offer 253 luxury condominiums with sweeping views of Tampa Bay and, on the highest floors, even the Gulf of Mexico, with most of its spacious terraces on the eastern side providing unobstructed water views above the low-lying St. Petersburg Yacht Club and Ponce de Leon Hotel.
The Hyatt will have 174 rooms and bring a much-needed addition to downtown’s limited tourist accommodations, and the ground floor of the property will add to the surrounding dining and shopping scene with 15,000-square-feet of retail space.
Mayor Rick Kriseman and St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce president Chris Steinocher were among a large crowd of local civic and business leaders that attended the VIP reception Thursday.
Both hailed the $120 million project as a new pinnacle for St. Petersburg’s growth as an international destination.
“One will be the highest residential tower in the Tampa Bay area. That’s certainly something to brag about,” said Kriseman.
Steinocher said the large empty lot at the eastern end of Central Avenue, just a block from the waterfront, long has been a “missing tooth in the wonderful smile of our community.”
“This is going to create a whole new vibe for our community,” he said.
“This is a town that is on fire right now.”
One St. Petersburg will loom five stories higher than the city’s tallest building, Signature Place, a plush condominium two blocks to the south built at the peak of the last real estate bubble.
Its height will be near those of the area’s two tallest buildings, the 100 North Tampa “Region’s” tower and the Bank of America Plaza, both 42 stories.
Developers have had eyes on this site for more than a decade, but previous plans for an equally ambitious condo tower died during the recession.
Kolter Group, based in West Palm Beach, has a strong track record of urban waterfront developments and already has broken ground on two similar residential towers in Sarasota and West Palm, said Bob Vail, president of the company’s urban division.
“We’re not guys who just open a project and wait around and wait around and people don’t know if it’s going to go forward. We go forward,” Vail said.
The condo tower’s tentative groundbreaking date is spring 2016 while the hotel is expected to open by the second quarter of 2017, Kolter executives said.
The project is waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration to respond to a letter from the city requesting a change in flight procedures along the downtown waterfront, where small planes fly into Albert Whitted Airport.
The approval would apply to much of the city’s urban core and clear the way for One St. Petersburg to enjoy the height and density that’s allowed in the zoning code, says Brian Van Slyke, development executive at Kolter.
Plans for the new tower have come after a banner year for development in St. Petersburg with nearly $400 million in construction permits last year and about 1,200 residential units completed or underway in the downtown core.
“It’s a great downtown: the waterfront, the bars, Beach Drive. It’s very walkable. We love it,” Kolter CEO Bobby Julien said.
Vail, the urban division president, said this project, which will cover an entire city block, will complete that vibrant downtown.
“This just really was the hole in the donut, as they say,” he said.