Downtown st. petersburg’s condo boom shows no signs of slowing electricity rate per kwh philippines


ST. PETERSBURG — Fresh from a $10.5 million facelift, one condo tower is again in high demand. Another tower, not yet finished, already is sold out with a double-digit waiting list. And a third boasts Tampa Bay’s priciest residential sale this year.

"I don’t see anything changing that,” says David Traynor, vice president of developer services for Smith & Associates, which markets several towers. "People want to be within a few blocks of Beach Drive, and you go back to very limited resales and very limited future land opportunities to build anything additional as far as large high-rises go.”

Moribund until a few decades ago, Beach Drive is now crowded with restaurants, cafes, shops and hundreds of well-heeled strollers on almost any weekend night. That buzz of activity and stunning waterfront views are what led the founder of an internationally known yacht racing team to buy a penthouse at Ovation in May for $6.9 million cash, the most ever paid for a bay area condo.

Even more striking is how quickly many high-end condos are finding buyers. Of the luxury units sold in the last six months, seven were under contract in less than a week. A few condos never even hit the Multiple Listing Service, but were sold in private transactions to buyers who learned about them through other sources or who made such attractive unsolicited offers that the owners couldn’t refuse them.

"The ones you have available are selling really fast,” said broker Geert Benoot, who lives in the mid-rise Rowland Place condos just off Beach Drive. Although that building — whose residents include former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco — is just two years old, one unit resold for almost twice its original $450,000 price.

Four of Beach Drive‘s condo towers — Ovation, Florencia, 400 Beach and the Cloisters — don’t have a single unit on the market as of this week. The 29-unit Bliss, nearing completion a block from Beach, has been sold out for months with 20 people on the waiting list, Traynor said.

The demand for condos right on Beach Drive is reviving interest in downtown’s oldest condo building, the 29-story Bayfront Tower built in 1974. Once home to former Florida governor and now U.S. rep.-elect Charlie Crist, it has undergone a $10.5 million renovation that began with electrical work, improved fire protection and a new roof.

"Once we did that we started on cosmetic things,” said Ron Salamone, president of the condominium association. That included replacing picket-style balcony railings with glass; remodeling the fitness center, ballroom and other communal areas on the 28th floor; and redoing the lobby and tunnel-like drop-off area for cars.

The most obvious improvement, though, was removing the dark, deteriorated aluminum screening that shrouded much of the lower part of the building. It was replaced with smaller, light gray panels that complement the new cream-color paint job and pale blue signage.

Catty-corner from Bayfront Tower at 175 1st St. S is Tampa Bay’s tallest condo tower and one of the most beleaguered — the 36-story Signature Place. After its condo association sued the developer and other parties two years ago over construction defects, sales and values plunged because banks refused to lend on Signature units.

Realtor Peggy Naruns, a former association board member, said the suit has been largely settled and a check is supposed to be on the way. Once that arrives and the association can show it has enough money to pay for ongoing repairs and maintenance, the banks are expected to lift their lending ban.

Demand for condos within walking distance of Beach Drive is also boosting interest in lesser-known and more modestly priced buildings like the Walker Whitney at 226 Fifth Ave. N and The Sage at 400 Fourth Ave. S. And while downtown’s condo inventory will grow over the next few years, many of the new units now under construction already are spoken for.

At 41 stories, ONE St. Petersburg at 100 1st Ave. N will be among the tallest buildings on Florida’s west coast. About two-thirds of its 253 units have been sold even though they won’t be ready for two years. Adding to ONE’s appeal is the full-service Hyatt hotel planned for the same site.