There are plans underway to convert a former shopping center in the Saint Petersburg region into a mixed-use development with some apartments for stable rent.
Local real estate investment firm Stoneweg has purchased Coquina Key shopping plaza, located at 4350 Sixth St. S, for $7.3 million last year.
According to plans submitted to the city, Stoneweg will build 458 apartments, 20% of which will be allocated to tenants who generate between 80% and 120% of the average income in the area. That’s between $65,700 and $98,520 for a family of four in Pinellas County.
Amenities will include a pool and dog park. There will also be 21,000 square feet of retail space.
Kyle Parks, a spokesperson for Stoneweg, said it is using private funding sources to build this project and will not receive government subsidies or tax credits. The developer will use the city’s “Workforce Housing Density Bonus Program” in order to increase the number of units allowed.
“Our goal with the Coquina Key redevelopment is to create positive change in the community without disrupting it,” said Sharman Bailey, associate director of corporate communications at Stoneweg. “We hope to deliver a quality product that brings workforce housing to the community, supports small local businesses, and encourages developers and other retailers to invest in this area of Saint Petersburg.”
More than 75 people provided public comments to the city about the proposal. Some neighbors criticized the project through an online petition.
One sticking point is the height of the project, which will reach seven stories at its peak. Existing zoning restrictions allow for a maximum of four floors. Stoneweg is asking the city to change its zoning accordingly.
Only one part of one building will reach seven floors, according to the developer’s plans. Parks explained that the highest part of this building would be in the center of the property so that it would not rise above the adjacent single-family homes.
Neighbors also raised concerns that there was no major grocery store that could replace the Save-a-Lot that had been standing in the shopping plaza. The shopping center previously housed a CVS pharmacy.
Walter Borden, president of the neighboring Bahama Shores Association, wrote in a public comment for the city: “This change in zoning will allow Stoneweg to significantly increase the population in the area, while at the same time significantly reducing the retail space needed to serve these residents.” “Closing the only grocery store in the area and not replacing it leaves the community and its new tenants in a food desert.”
Parks said Stoneweg has reached out to more than 15 supermarket chains, but none have expressed interest in renting space on the property.
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“We continue to try to find a smaller local grocer that will occupy one of our retail spaces,” he said in an email. “In total, we would like to secure an additional 6-7 vendors who provide quality supplies and services to the community.”
Stoneweg will present her proposal to the Committee for Planning and Community Preservation in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday. The project must also obtain approval from the Development Review Committee and the City Council.
If all goes as planned, construction is expected to begin this fall.