If there's one thing for certain it's that Downtown St.Petersburg is booming. Almost daily there seems to be news of new construction or new restaurants or someone doing something big. The transformation seen in Downtown St.Pete over the past decade is almost unbelievable and it hasn't stopped. With all the development going on, someone has to argue: What does it take to be considered the biggest news of the day in Downtown St.Petersburg?
Let's take yesterday for example- I'll tell you what yesterday's big news is not. The biggest news of the day is NOT the fact that the biggest apartment project in Downtown St.Pete was announced. And it's NOT the fact that the Bella Brava owners have hired celebrity chef Jeffery Jew for their new Beach Drive restaurant.
I'd consider the biggest news of the day to be Bill Edwards buying the Tropicana block in Downtown St.Petersuburg. If the name Bill Edwards rings a bell, I wouldn't be surprised. He's the man behind the company that runs the Mahaffey Theater and The Club at Treasure Island, he's a controlling owner in the Tampa Bay Rowdies, and his company owns Sundial St.Pete (f/k/a Baywalk). You'd think a man with that much on his plate would settle down, but not Bill Edwards.
Today he purchased the Tropicana block for $12 million. This block was once home to the Tropicana project, a $360 million a multi-use project that consisted of retail, office, and residential towers that would've one of the biggest projects in Downtown St.Petersburg. But when the real estate bubble burst this project was quietly forgotten.
While I'm sure Bill Edwards will develop his own proposal for this block he has the chance to do something big. As mentioned in the Tampa Bay Times, this is the only vacant city block that is under control of one owner that has the most intense zoning in the entire city.
If you know anything about Bill Edwards you'd know that he is a visionary who gets things done. He has the chance to control two entire city blocks (Sundial and Tropicana) within a close proximity to each other in the middle of Downtown. The possibilities are almost limitless and I can't wait to see what he comes up with.
Just how important is this block? Just look, it's basically in the middle of everything. The future is bright, and taking a line from Mayor Rick Kriseman: "the sun shines here."