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Sunday, May 26, 2019
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Soaring tower with luxury condos and hotel 'coming soon' to downtown St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG - New York's Red Apple Group expects to break ground early this year on a soaring tower in downtown St. Petersburg that will include condos, a 200-room hotel, event space and possibly room for offices.

"I want to do something that we will all be proud of,'' John Catsimatidis, Red Apple's billionaire founder, said in a phone interview Thursday.

In a full page ad in the New York Times, the company unveiled a "draft'' rendering of an approximately 50-story tower that will be taller than anything on Florida's west coast except for the proposed Riverwalk Place in downtown Tampa. The newly completed ONE St. Petersburg condominium near the city's downtown waterfront tops out at 41-stories.

Catsimatidis said he thinks Red Apple's tower - which would dwarf everything nearby - already has gotten at least a tentative okay from the Federal Aviation Administration. Buildings close to downtown's Albert Whitted Airport are subject to certain height restrictions.

As shown in another rendering that Catsimatidis provided, the building designed by the Miami firm Arquitectonica will be angled northeast to southwest on the now-vacant 400 block of Central Avenue. The tower appears to be encircled by narrow, wavy bands. Those actually are balconies, Catsimatidis said, although they are subject to change.

"The architects are doing the final drawings or plans and there is one final open item on how the balconies are going to look,'' he said. "Subject to that, we will be ready to start breaking ground in the first quarter'' of this year.

St. Petersburg planning director Elizabeth Abernethy said the city has not yet received any plans for the project.

The tower will rise on the 400 block of Central Avenue, which Red Apple bought for $16.5 million in 2017. The project will consist of a single building that will include around 325 condos and 800 parking spaces. Catsimatidis said he has met fairly recently with Mayor Rick Kriseman, who has said he thinks the city has enough high-end residences but could use another hotel and more Class A office space.

"Office space is an open item,'' Catsimatidis said. "We haven't done anything on that yet but I'm personally open to suggestions. I'm all for it. If we can do the right deal, we can make it happen.''

The ad in a real estate supplement to the New York Times promises that the tower will have "breathtaking views of Tampa Bay'' from luxury condominium residences and an "exclusive full serve boutique hotel and event space.'' The ad also shows a luxury apartment complex in Coney Island that Red Apple is opening this spring.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at smartin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.

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