Developers make pandemic-driven changes to mixed-use project
After a comprehensive market analysis that inspired design changes, developers behind Orange Station at the Edge in St. Petersburg are ready to move forward.
| 12:00 p.m. August 5, 2021
Commercial Real Estate
Edge Central Development Partners’ planned Orange Station at the Edge project, in St. Petersburg, has undergone numerous changes since the city chose it to redevelop the former St. Petersburg Police headquarters site in November 2019.
Many of the changes stemmed from the impact of the pandemic and influenced alterations and new designs for the two-acre tract at 1300 First Ave. North.
Now, however, Edge Central — a team made up of Tampa’s DDA Development, J Square Developers and Backstreets Capital — says demolition of the former police quarters could begin within 60 days.
If that timeline is met, the $80 million, mixed-use project should deliver in late 2023 or by the summer of 2024, and provide the area with its first new office space and condominiums — together with much-need, more affordable rental housing — in more than a decade.
“We hope to compliment everything that’s going on in the city’s Edge District already, and be an activating presence,” says Bowen Arnold, a DDA Development principal. “And we think our project has a lot of complimentary elements to it.”
St. Petersburg’s City Council agrees. In July of last year, it voted its unanimous support for Orange Station.
The most noticeable design change to come about in recent months altered Orange Station’s office space from a planned 100,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet.
“COVID came to our shores and dealt with it a lot of uncertainty as to how people would use office space moving forward,” says Jay Miller, another Edge Central principal and head of J Square Developers, of St. Petersburg.
“So we thought as a result that it would make sense for us to phase the office component and be a little more conservative up front.”
That change prompted the project’s partners to combine the offices and 61 condominiums into a single 16-story tower.
Previously, designs from Place Architecture called for the office space to be housed in a nine-story building and the condos in a separate eight-story structure.
“The total elevations are a fundamental change,” Arnold says.
Miller says elevating the condo units also will enhance their value among buyers.
With the compression into a single tower, Edge Central also was able to increase the number of “workforce” apartments on the site, to 42 from 30.
The Wye housing component will rise seven stories, according to Place Architecture renderings, up from five floors previously.
“There’s an enormous demand for workforce, attainable housing, so we’re happy to be able to meet some of that need,” Arnold says.
Despite the significant changes, much as remained the same as proposed initially, Miller and Arnold say.
Most notably, Edge Central remains committed to delivering a six-level, 600-space parking garage — 400 spaces of which will be open and dedicated to the public, per city requirement.
Orange Station’s planned 22,000 square feet of ground-level retail space is in keeping with previous designs, too.
Miller says marketing of the retail space won’t begin until after Edge Central breaks ground on Orange Station, a nod to an Orange Belt Railway depot in today’s Edge District that brought St. Petersburg’s first settlers to the city in the late 1880s.
“There’s not a lot of retail space there now, despite the many restaurants, so we think we’ll really be able to curate what goes in there, with some local and independent merchants and perhaps one or two nationals,” Miller says.
Also unchanged are plans for public plaza with an art installation honoring the “Courageous 12” police officers whose efforts led to the integration of the St. Petersburg Police Department on Aug. 1, 1968.
Since March 2019, the department’s headquarters have been located in a $79 million, 168,000-square-foot project at 1301 First Ave. North — across the street from the planned Orange Station.
“The office component will be a major differentiator, as will the condos,” Miller says. “Most of the residences that have gone up in the Edge District are rentals, and we believe the parking garage will make the project a true destination.
“I can’t think of another true mixed-use project in that area,” he adds. “All of the components are represented, but not in a cohesive way.”
“It’s very important to us that Orange Station be compatible with the surrounding area,” Arnold says. “It’s going to serve a lot of needs. We’d like to get the old building down as soon as possible and move ahead. We’re ready.”