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Westin Hotel and Condominiums Downtown St Petersburg FL

Tomorrow is the special EDC hearing in St Petersburg concerning Fuel Group International’s proposed Westin Hotel and condominiums in downtown St Petersburg. Located on Fifth Avenue North it would join three other condominium projects on 5th Avenue. It is designed to be 33 stories, with 260 hotel rooms and 111 condos.

After the project was first announced, residents in the nearby Old Northeast neighborhood began voicing their objections.

"New rules are coming into effect which would decrease the density…"  Yes, but the developers are entitled to use the existing rules.

"There aren’t enough parking spaces. Traffic may spill over into the residential areas…" In response to this, the developers added an additional floor of parking to the project, with more than 100 additional parking spaces.

"They should move this closer to the center of downtown. There is land available…"  Yes, and at what cost? The developers already own this parcel of land.

"It’s unsuitable and inappropriate…"  I think it will be an improvement over the convenience store and deteriorating properties adjacent to it. The further (in the downtown area) that these new projects spread, the wider the area that will have people walking around every evening, the more desirable the entire downtown will become.

According to Fuel Group, the hotel is the major component of this project, so it will not be dependent on presales, which most condo projects require.

From the Simms perspective, good design and quality construction are more important than strict density – I’d rather have more of something beautiful than less of something bland or ugly.

Downtown St Petersburg is an exciting place to be – lots of events, museums, shops, restaurants – a wonderful downtown for walking through the parks and along the waterfront. The Renaissance Vinoy Resort is a wonderful old, renovated hotel; the Hampton Inn is a great addition to downtown as well. We’ve often tried to make reservations at one of them for our clients coming to St Petersburg to look for a property, or just visit – and so often they are completely booked. Sometimes we’ve had to book our clients 20-30 minutes away from downtown. So – we welcome the Westin Hotel and hope that the EDC approved their application.

The Westin would be the second downtown project – the other being the Grand Bohemian Hotel planned by the Kessler Group – which will have condominiums on top of a hotel. These are not planned to be condo-hotels, where the  rooms are owned by individuals, but separate condominiums, which are able to share the facilities and amenities of the hotel.

Not everyone in St Petersburg is opposed to this project. The developers have several letters of support, including the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnershiop.

Do you have an opinion? Then attend the meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, May 16th, of the Environmental Development Commission. This is the only item on the agenda.

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