Developers turning the site of the old St. Petersburg Police headquarters into a mixed-use project have revised their plans, in part because of Covid-19.
Edge Central Development Partners now plans to build less office space and more workforce housing and could add a hotel into the mix.
The St. Petersburg City Council voted unanimously Thursday to amend the lease and development agreement with Edge Central, the team Mayor Rick Kriseman selected in late 2019 for the $70 million project.
As soon as Council members signed off on the new deal, Edge Central issued a news release, saying it would begin demolition at the site at 1300 1st Ave. N. this summer, paving the way for construction to begin in the first quarter of 2022. The project, dubbed Orange Station at the Edge, is expected to be completed in 2023. Leasing plans already are underway and new renderings of the project design are in the works.
The original lease and development agreement, approved last year, called for a minimum of 100,000 square feet of Class A office space, at least 56 market-rate condos and 30 workforce-rate rental apartments, 22,000-square-feet of retail space and a 600-car parking garage, including 400 public spaces.
In the months before the Covid-19 pandemic, St. Petersburg officials said that the city had little office space to accommodate the companies looking to relocate to and expand in St. Petersburg.
During the pandemic, many companies adapted to a remote workforce and required less office space.
The pandemic prompted the request to change the agreement, said Alan DeLisle, city development administrator. Edge Development asked the city to waive the requirement for office space completely, but the city instead cut the minimum office space required in half, to 50,000 square feet, DeLisle said. It will be “spec” space, which means the office space must be built, whether or not tenants have signed leases.
“The reduced office space came with a price. It came with an increase in workforce housing,” DeLisle told Council members.
He added there is a caveat. “It is not that they are just going to do 50,000 square feet of office. They may do more, up to 100,000 square feet, and if they do, they don’t have to increase the workforce housing.”
In its own news release, Edge Central said Orange Station would feature 50,000-square-feet of Class A office; 130,000-square-feet of residential space, including 61 for-sale condos and 42 workforce apartments; and 14,000-square-feet of retail along Central Avenue and 1st Avenue North, as well as the original plans for the parking garage.
If Edge Central builds less office space than originally envisioned, there will be an open space at the northeast corner of the site. The city has limited future development on that site to more office space or a hotel, DeLisle said.
The EDGE Business District Association supports the changes, Executive Director Barbara Voglewede told Council members. It reflects “a workable compromise” for a post-pandemic economy, she said.
Edge Central also plans a public plaza at the site that will include public art commemorating the Courageous 12, a dozen St. Petersburg police officers who fought an historic civil rights battle. Local artist Ya La’Ford has come up with concept designs for a statue, said Jay Miller, president of J Square Developers, one of the partners in the development team. The Courageous 12 memorial likely will be located near Baum Avenue and close to a planned SunRunner bus rapid transit stop, Miller said.
Leasing plans are in progress, with Smith & Associates expected to open a condo sales office this summer and contracts opening up in the fall. David Moyer of Smith & Associates is the condo sales lead.
Cushman Wakefield is leading office leasing, and the company is already fielding lots of inquiries, said Cushman Wakefield project lead Wendy Giffin. Siteworks Commercial Real Estate, an affiliate of J Square, is handling retail leasing.
In addition to St. Petersburg-based J Square, other partners in the development team are Tampa-based DDA Development and Craig Sher and Will Conroy of Backstreets Capital in St. Petersburg. The project architect is Tim Clemmons of The PLACE Architecture in St. Pete.