Excerpted from St. Pete Rising story.
Now that construction is complete on Icon Central, a 15-story 368-unit apartment community in Downtown St. Pete, Jorge Perez, CEO of Related Group, has his sights set on the company’s next project in the Sunshine City.
Prior to his trip to Tampa Bay last week, Mr. Perez had only expressed interest in another Downtown St. Pete project if it was on the water. But his recent trip may have changed his mind.
“While he would love to find a site on the water, after today’s visit, I think he’s going to look everywhere,” says Jessica Suarez, VP of Development. “Mr. Perez is in love with St. Pete. We are absolutely bullish on finding something else here.”
While Beach Drive is home to many condo towers that offer million dollar views, the jury was out on whether a luxury property like Icon Central could be successful despite being eight blocks from the water.
Six months after Icon Central began leasing, the apartment building is now 45% leased. For a development of this magnitude, the lease up schedule is usually around 12 months, which means Icon Central is right on track to reach stabilized occupancy by June 2020.
“Typically the one and two-bedroom units rent first,” says Suarez. “But at Icon Central, there has been a really big demand for the 3-bedrooms and penthouse units.” The demand for larger, luxury units proves that Downtown St. Pete isn’t just appealing to the younger crowd, but is a destination for baby boomers as well.
Units at Icon Central range from $1,730 for a 576 square foot apartment to $6,324 for a 2,288 square foot townhome. While those prices are on the high end for St. Pete, the amenities included are second to none. The community features a resort-style pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a yoga studio and zen garden, a spa treatment room, sauna and steam room, a private screening room and more.
Located at 855 Central Avenue in Downtown St. Pete, Icon Central was first announced back in October 2016 for a derelict, overgrown site occupied by a large surface parking lot and the Union Trust Bank building, which had sat vacant since 1996. As part of the redevelopment of the block, Related Group renovated the 1926 bank building and is now leasing it out as commercial space.
Although no tenants have been revealed for Icon Central’s 38,000 square feet of retail space, Suarez says an announcement is coming soon. Ongoing discussions are underway with three to four groups. “We are being very selective in who we choose to fill the bank building,” says Suarez. “It’s an absolute jewel and we want to be sure it becomes a destination visited by people from far and wide.
The Union Trust Bank building is 18,000 square feet spread across a first floor plus mezzanine, a second floor, a basement and a rooftop deck. The bank’s vault and safe deposit boxes are still intact.
Aside from the bank building and some space on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr St N, the remaining commercial space, once filled, will activate a segment of Central Avenue that has sat unused for decades. Icon Central has successfully connected two of Downtown St. Pete’s most popular neighborhoods — The EDGE District and The Central Arts District.
As commercial rents continue to rise in Downtown St. Pete, it’s becoming more difficult for local businesses to set up shop on Central Avenue. “We know local business is really important to the mayor and the residents of St. Petersburg,” says Suarez. “You really need to have a blend of both to be successful.”
As 2019 comes to a close, we reflect on all of the progress St. Pete has made as a city, including Icon Central’s success in moving luxury development further west. And looking forward to 2020, we’re excited to see which tenants move into Icon Central’s 38,000 square feet of retail space. And if all goes according to plan, we may also see the announcement of Related Group’s next project in St. Pete.