Mixed-Use High-Rise to Bring Office and Boutique Hotel to Downtown St. Pete

The 0.65 acre site at the corner of 1st Avenue N and 5th Street N is under contract to The DeNunzio Group for $5.3M.

The 0.65 acre site at the corner of 1st Avenue N and 5th Street N is under contract to The DeNunzio Group for $5.3M.

Another surface parking lot in the Downtown St. Petersburg, FL core is poised to become a high-rise mixed-use development according to a resolution that will go before the St. Pete City Council on March 7th. The resolution, if approved, will allow negotiations to move forward between the City and The DeNunzio Group, a Cambridge, MA based real estate company, to construct a public parking garage as part of a new development at the southeast corner of First Avenue North and Fifth Street North.

Last year the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Christ United Methodist Church had entered into an agreement to sell its parking lot at 450 1st Avenue North for $5.65 million. At the time, the buyer was disclosed as Miles River Development, a Connecticut based company. They have since backed out of purchasing the site in order to focus on other projects in the area.

This opened up an opportunity for Dustin DeNunzio, who founded The DeNunzio Group back in 2005. His company is currently under contract to buy the downtown lot for $5.3M.

The Christ United Methodist Church has entered an agreement to sell its parking lot at 450 1st Ave N.

The Christ United Methodist Church has entered an agreement to sell its parking lot at 450 1st Ave N.

Having grown up 20 miles north in Palm Harbor, DeNunzio has always been keen on Downtown St. Pete and the live-work-play community it has recently adopted. “There isn’t another place in the area that offers amenities that Downtown St. Pete has, whether it be sporting events, public parks, restaurants, or the arts,” he says.

And while he splits his time between Florida and Massachusetts, his company has been active in Pinellas County, recently developing a 6-story, 102-unit Fairfield Inn & Suites on Clearwater Beach.

In buying the Church parking lot in Downtown St. Pete, DeNunzio hopes to develop a true mixed-use building unlike anything else offered downtown, with a range of uses including retail, office, hotel, residential, and, hopefully, public parking.

The first floor of the approximately 25-story building will consist of ground floor retail which will be topped by seven floors of parking, many of which could be public if City Council approves the term sheet on March 7th.

A parking study completed by the City in 2016 highlighted the location as an area for investment in parking facilities. Click the map to for a larger view.

In the resolution, the City proposes funding at least four levels of parking with 75 spaces per floor for a total of 300 spaces. The conditions of the resolution state that the price per space is not-to-exceed $28,700 per space or $8.6 million for all 300 spaces. While this may seem expensive, the pricing is standard for the construction of structured parking. The City has already set aside $5 million from Intown Tax Increment Funding (TIF) towards the construction of a new downtown parking facility. 

A parking study that was completed in May 2016 identified the location of the project as one of three areas in downtown where additional public parking is needed. The City also notes that the proposed public garage is located just one block away from a recently demolished public parking garage that was typically at capacity. That parking garage was razed in 2016 in preparation for the redevelopment of 400 Central Avenue. 

Above the seven floors of parking will be at least two floors of Class A office with 20,000 square feet of space per floor. With vacancy rates for Class A office space in Downtown St. Pete near all-time lows, adding more office to the market has been a high priority for the City’s Economic Development team.

A chart from the 2019 State of the St. Pete Economy address shows that the vacancy rate for Class A office space in Downtown St. Pete has dropped significantly in recent years. view the full presentation here.

In a recent article, St. Pete’s development administrator Alan DeLisle was quoted as saying, “More and more companies want to be in Downtown St. Pete… We’d like to have more space for our prospects.”

DeNunzio agrees that there’s a need for more Class A office and hopes to use his connections in the Boston area to market the space to biotechnology or telecommunications firms seeking to leverage St. Pete’s institutions, such as Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, and Florida’s favorable business climate.

In addition to office, a hotel will occupy the two or three floors above the office space with the vision being for a 120 to 150 room boutique hotel flagged by a Marriott or Hilton brand. And given the project’s location in the Central Arts District, DeNunzio would like to see the hotel pay tribute to St. Pete’s arts and creative communities. 

The final portion of the project is still being fleshed out, but it’s expected that multifamily units, likely apartments, will occupy the upper 12 to 13 floors of the building. The market will dictate how much office, hotel, and residential the project will contain; but if all goes according to plan the building could be the first in downtown to feature retail, office, hotel, and residential space all within the same building.

If Council approves the coming resolution, the City will begin negotiations with the developer to craft a formal development agreement. If approved, The DeNunzio Group hopes to close on the land shortly thereafter. City staff has recommended approval of the resolution. You can read the resolution that will go before City Council on March 7th here