Towers proposed for downtown St. Pete lot
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06 / 26 / 14
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Kolter plans to close on the property next month and break ground by early 2015 on two towers in a mixed-use project that will include condo units, hotel rooms, retail space and parking

ST. PETERSBURG — A long-empty parcel in the center of downtown recently bought by prominent businessman Bill Edwards will get new life as a hotel and condominium complex.

West Palm Beach-based developer Kolter Group LLC announced plans Wednesday to acquire the one-block parcel at 25 Second St. N. from the Edwards Group and begin developing it next year.

Kolter plans to close on the property next month and break ground by early 2015 on two towers in a mixed-use project that will include condo units, hotel rooms, retail space and parking.

In March, Edwards quietly spent $12 million for the lot, located a block south of the Sundial retail center he's redeveloping, but had said nothing about his intentions for it.

The plan all along had been to seek a developer who could go the distance with this key piece of real estate that has been dormant for many years, Edwards Group President Rick Baker said.

"To me, it may be the most important block in St. Petersburg, if not the west coast of Florida, because it's high-density use, it's in the heart of the downtown core and it's effectively a vacant lot," said Baker, a former mayor of St. Petersburg.

Baker remembers efforts to spark redevelopment on the property more than a decade ago during his administration.

Before the recession, a Miami developer announced plans that would include a large hotel and condo tower, but those never came to fruition.

In the past year, upscale apartment buildings have gone up in spaces that had long been empty and a handful of condo projects are in the works, but this space, dubbed the Tropicana Block, remained a hole in the heart of downtown.

Edwards has invested his mortgage business wealth in several city projects, most notably his multimillion-dollar transformation of the defunct BayWalk shopping plaza into the shiny, new Sundial.

He said the city is ready for the kind of project Kolter is planning for the Tropicana Block.

"We searched for someone to develop the property in a way befitting the city that St. Petersburg has become," Edwards said in a written statement. "There is a clear demand for more condominiums and a new quality hotel downtown."

Kolter is building waterfront condominiums in the posh Snell Isle neighborhood north of downtown.

Details of the new project haven't been set yet, though designs and renderings should emerge this summer and the company expects it to be finished toward the end of 2017.

"We love St. Petersburg," Bobby Julien, CEO of The Kolter Group, said in a statement. "The city's downtown is emerging as one of the nation's special urban centers, and we are excited to be a part of its future."

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