St. Petersburg’s apartment boom is spreading west

Vantage Lofts, a Michigan-based company’s first Florida project, will have 211 loft-style apartments on the border of the Edge and Grand Central Districts near downtown St. Petersburg. [Courtesy of DevMar Development LLC]

ST. PETERSBURG — Still more apartments are coming to St. Petersburg, this time to the Edge and Grand Central Districts just west of downtown.

The new projects, all by out-of-state developers and more moderately priced than those downtown, will add more than 650 units to a rental market that shows no signs of slowing down.

Indianapolis-based Milhaus Development plans a six-story, 251-unit apartment building with 12,000 feet of commercial space at 1601 Central Avenue. A city agency has given it a preliminary thumbs up.

The Ohio-based NRP Group —which is about to complete the nine-story Avanti apartment complex on Fourth Street S — is expected to close soon on part of the 1700 block of Central Avenue where it plans 243 more rentals.

And DevMar Development of Michigan is about to start clearing land at First Avenue N and 16th Street for 211 loft-style apartments in a high-rise with roof-top pool.

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The three projects are further evidence that the boom that began near St. Petersburg’s downtown waterfront is rapidly spreading to the once grittier neighborhoods between Ninth and 34 Streets N . Both the Edge District and the Grand Central District are now humming with shops and restaurants, and are close to the galleries and artist studios of the Warehouse Arts District.

DevMar’s Vantage Lofts is the first Florida venture for the company, which has specialized in urban in-fill projects around Detroit.

"A lot of people had come up to me, especially in my construction lender community, and thought the kind of project I typically do would be perfect in this growing Edge District," said Mark DeMaria of DevMar. "When I visited, I was very attracted to the area and felt it was a very good fit for us."

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The Vantage Lofts will be in what DeMaria called a "condo-quality structure" that could be converted to a condominium if the demand for rentals slacks. The 11-story building will include studio, one- and two–bedroom units and several penthouses, all in a minimalist design with exposed ductwork and high ceilings.

Monthly rental rates will range from $1,300 to $3,000, less than for many of the new apartments in the downtown core.

NRP Group, which developed the Beacon 430 apartments on Fourth Street as well as the under-construction Avanti, also wants to keep rents lower in its new project.

"We felt that young professionals and millennials were a tenant profile not being as well served as upper income and higher rent tenants," said Kurt Kehoe, NRP’s vice president of development. "We are really going after a younger demographic that’s more in tune with craft brews and flip flops than wine and cheese."

Tentatively called 1701 Central, the mixed-use project will include a five-story building and attached parking garage with retail space. The apartments generally will be smaller and as much as $600 cheaper than units in high-end buildings closer to the water like Camden Pier District (formerly AER) and the Hermitage.

Kehoe said NRP is so bullish on St. Pete" — a sentiment echoed by DeMaria, His Michigan-based company had looked at downtown Tampa but found it less appealing than the city across the bay.

"St. Pete has the proper infrastructure for a walkable community," DeMaria said. "Tampa wants to get there but it doesn’t have that pedestrian comfort and feel like St. Pete does. You’re walking in the shadows of those buildings (in Tampa); you want the sun hitting you like it does in St. Pete."

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

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