174-room Hyatt hotel planned for downtown St. Petersburg
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02 / 06 / 15

Construction of the four-star hotel is expected to start next spring and be finished in the fall of 2017, Bobby Julien, CEO of the Kolter Group, said Friday.

In another sign of downtown St. Petersburg's soaring popularity, a 174-room Hyatt hotel will be part of a $200 million retail-condo project a few blocks from the waterfront.

Construction of the four-star hotel is expected to start next spring and be finished in the fall of 2017, Bobby Julien, CEO of the Kolter Group, said Friday.

Hyatt, one of the world's leading hotel companies, currently has only two other hotels in the Tampa Bay area, both rated as four star by AAA — the Hyatt Regency on Clearwater Beach and the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay in Tampa's West Shore area.

The new hotel will rise on a block bounded by Central Avenue and First Avenue N and First and Second streets that Kolter bought last year from Bill Edwards, the St. Petersburg entrepreneur who revamped the nearby Baywalk movie-retail-dining complex into the renamed Sundial St. Pete.

The hotel will be 13 or 14 stories tall and "the concept is urban walkable," Julien said, promising the development will be "very up to date, not a big old convention hotel."

The decor, he added, will be inspired by "the local St. Petersburg market, not a chain hotel where it's the same in Chicago as in L.A." The hotel's restaurant also will be "locally inspired," he said.

At 174 rooms, the new Hyatt would be sized in the middle of the downtown hotel market. The nearby Hampton Inn, part of the Hilton chain, has 91 rooms, the Courtyard Marriott has 128, the St. Petersburg Hilton has 333 and the Marriott-owned Vinoy Renaissance is the largest at 361 rooms. Downtown, whose museums, restaurants and galleries have made it a popular tourist destination, also has several smaller boutique-style hotels and bed-and-breakfasts.

Even with those properties, "I have felt for a long time that hotel rooms and the lack thereof is a real challenge that we have had here in St. Petersburg," Mayor Rick Kriseman said Friday. "I know there is business we have had to turn away because we don't have the hotel rooms, so having another real quality hotel coming is a real benefit."

Kriseman said he has been reaching out to "a couple of different hotel chains" to encourage them to consider building in the city. "The Omni (and) Westin chains would do very well here," he said.

In 2004, the Kessler chain announced plans for a luxury Grand Bohemian hotel on a vacant lot near the Hyatt site but never followed through. Other than that still-empty parcel, buildable land downtown is increasingly scarce, although "to me the downtown area is really spreading and has gotten larger, heading westward (and) heading southward," Kriseman said.

On the same block as the Hyatt, the Kolter Group plans a 41-story residential tower that would be the tallest building downtown and one of the tallest in the bay area. The company, based in West Palm Beach, paid $17.2 million for the so-called Tropicana block not long after Edwards acquired it for $12 million.

Kolter also developed the Water Club condo/townhouse project on Snell Isle, which is finished and about 60 percent sold, and the Vue in Sarasota, a condo tower and Westin hotel under construction next to the Ritz-Carlton on Sarasota Bay.

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