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Birchwood Inn progressing in downtown St Petersburg

Birchwood Inn coming out of Grayl's in downtown St Petersburg

Birchwood Inn progress



Construction is continuing on the Birchwood Inn in downtown St. Petersburg. No, it won’t be done by November 15th, or even by Christmas. Predictions now are for a 2013 completion.



See previous posts for more information and earlier photos:

From Grayl’s to The Birchwood Inn  5-14-12

Rooftop bars – Birchwood Inn in St Petersburg  7-16-12

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Downtown St Pete Sunrise Sale 2012

Sunrise Sale in St Petersburg brings out the pajamas

Christy from Sweet Divas visiting the Gift Box


Flags, balloons and music on the downtown St Pete sidewalks for sunrise sale

Beach Drive welcomes you to the Sunrise Sale in downtown St Petersburg

6:43 am  Downtown St Petersburg Florida.  Today was the 39th annual Sunrise Sale in downtown St Pete. Super sales awaited the early birds, with extra discounts if you were wearing pajamas! Plan your first stop for your favorite shop and get the best bargains there. For me, Stop #1 was The Gift Box. Next door was new Cerulean Blue on one side and Savory spice shop on the other. Then I stopped at Sweet Divas for a Black and White Coffee (coffee with both dark chocolate and white chocolate). Umm.  Yumm.

Then I stopped at the Museum of Fine Arts store that had a variety of interesting things on sale – and free mimosas to drink while shopping.  There was lots to see and do, from a $4 breakfast at 400 Beach to big sales at Bruce Watters, Jewelers.

There are usually about 30 shops open, with bargains up to 80% off!  Before too long, I just sat outside of ALVA International and watched the passers-by. Ladies in pajamas, men in pajamas, even dogs in pajamas. And of course, some preferring “street” clothes, even though it meant a bit less of a bargain.

Some of us remember the old days. You’d mark the Sunrise Sale on your calendar months in advance, always a weekday morning in July. Some stores would have crowds outside the door, waiting …   Remember the Straw Goat? B. Chandler’s? John Baldwin’s?

Even if you’re not a normal Early Riser – have some fun and join the Sunrise Sale in downtown St Petersburg!

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Hotels find rooftop bars are very popular – Birchwood Inn in St Petersburg

Hard at work on Grayl's renovation on Beach Drive in downtown St Petersburg Florida

Grayl's/Birchwood will have rooftop lounge


Chuck Prather is right on target with his renovation of  Grayl’s Hotel on Beach Drive in downtown St Petersburg. When the hotel opens as Birchwood Inn – scheduled for around Christmas 2012 – one of the features will be a 4th floor rooftop bar. USA Today recently published an article: Hotels from NYC to L.A. open fancy, profitable rooftop bars  mentioning hotels across the country that are opening rooftop bars, taking advantage of prime real estate.

People like to eat and drink outside and like to enjoy nice views, whether it’s a city skyline, a waterfront or parks. The outside areas along Beach Drive are very popular: think Cassis, Bella Brava, Tryst, Parkshore Grill, Moon Under Water. All of these are along the sidewalk at street level. When Birchwood Inn opens at 340 Beach Drive NE in downtown St Petersburg with its 4th floor rooftop lounge it should offer nice views and breezes.

And remember – just a block away is The Simms Team at ALVA International, Inc real estate – across from the Museum of Fine Arts, with the red awning. We’re at 238 Beach Drive NE in downtown St Petersburg, serving your real estate needs for St Petersburg and Beyond.

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A rare foggy morning in downtown St Pete

We’re accustomed to consistent sunny mornings in St Pete. The colors and patterns of the sunrise vary, but coming down Beach Drive after the sun is up is just about the same every day.

This was a morning not long ago when fog enveloped the tops of the buildings. I wonder if people living on the top floors thought they were living in the clouds.


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New resident on Beach Drive

Mz Alligator visits St Petersburg

Mz Alligator visits St Petersburg

This new resident on Beach Drive gives a new dimension to strolling Beach Drive.  Miz Alligator site on her bench outside Red Cloud, an Indian arts, crafts & jewelry store at 208 Beach Drive NE in downtown St Pete. You just never know what you’re going to find on your daily stroll.

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Sweet Divas Chocolates now open in downtown St Petersburg

Sweet Divas Chocolate

Sweet Divas Chocolate

Sweet Divas  Chocolates opened today at 400 Beach Drive NE in downtown St Petersburg. Note that it’s actually on 4th Avenue North, just off Beach Drive. It joins The Gift Box and Savory Spice Shop in this strip of shops just around the corner from the Chihuly Collection.

The bright lime green awnings caught my attention as I was driving by early this morning – so I went around the block and came back to check it out. There’s free parking right along the curb.

Immediately inside the door the silent Dobson was there to greet me, offering various chocolate samples.

Dobson at Sweet Divas Chocolates

Dobson at Sweet Divas Chocolates

Once past Dobson, the greetings were warmer and vocal:  Christy (the chocolate maker) and Jeanne (the baker) had smiles, even this early in the morning.

Christy and Jeanne at Sweet Diva Chocolates

Christy and Jeanne at Sweet Diva Chocolates

At this hour, the coffees and teas would be the most popular, accompanied by muffins or cupcakes, cookies or chocolate. I chose a latte, which could have a variety of flavors.

Conrad, Christy’s husband, was still hanging the menu board when I came in. He was quick to tell me that Christy not only made ganache, but could custom blend a chocolate just for me. When Jeanne learned that I was a Realtor, she was quick to let me know that they made gift baskets and had gift certificates.

Looking around the shop, there were a variety of chocolates, baked goods and other treats. Come here to look for gifts and be sure to buy something for yourself while you’re here.

Sweet Divas Chocolates, 400 Beach Drive NE, Suite 181, St Pete    www.sweetdivaschocolates.com

…and for your real estate needs, be sure to round the corner and come to The Simms Team at ALVA International, Inc. at 238 Beach Drive NE.  Come see what Beach Drive is all about!

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St. Petersburg’s Beach Drive is ‘Best Place to Be’

St. Petersburg’s Beach Drive is ‘best place to be’ reads a headline in this morning’s St Petersburg Times. And they’re right!

Beach Drive in downtown St Petersburg is pedestrian friendly

Beach Drive in downtown St Petersburg is pedestrian friendly

An empty Beach Drive Optical shop was the trigger for us to open our own real estate office, ALVA International, Inc. on Beach Drive. We’re right in the middle of restaurants, shops and museums (and about 2,000 condo units in downtown St Pete, many of which are right on Beach Drive) and where many of our current and potential clients stroll by. Early dogwalkers, people heading out for a morning latte or espresso, shoppers, those strolling to lunch, or to the museums exhibits. The Museum of Fine Arts, which has thrived and on Beach Drive for years, is right across from our office. Straub Park has art shows and concerts and music and movies. Boats anchor in the Vinoy Basin.

We love being able to walk to lunch or to get an afternoon gelato. We love seeing the many weekend activities that are going on in the parks. We enjoy the exhibits at the museums and galleries that surround us.

In spring and fall, when the weather is balmy and wonderful, we enjoy sitting outside our office and watching the world go by, talking to passersby and yes, even working, since our iPads and iPhones keep us connected outside the office.

If you haven’t been to downtown to Beach Drive lately, make a point of coming to see all that’s going on.  And if you’d like – stop in to see The Simms Team at ALVA International!

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Prohibition Club to open on Beach Drive

Renovations at Grayl’s HotelDowntown St Petersburg will have yet another “Destination” on Beach Drive – in between Parkshore Grille, Moon Under Water and the yet-to-be-determined restaurant at 400 Beach – the Prohibition Club in Grayl’s Hotel. For months I’ve been watching the renovations as I’ve driven from the Vinoy to my office every morning. I even took some photos of the progress.

Dale and Mary Grayl bought the parkside hotel in 1994 and had plans (“had” being the operative word) to add 5 floors on top of the hotel. The current 1920s Jazz Age theme is appropriate for the historic building and will be enhanced with a display out front of 1920s cars.

You won’t be able to just walk in and enjoy the club, though – you’ll have to either join the club or rent one of the remaining 10 hotel rooms. This is the first of the Grayl 3 year plan – this year the club, next year a restaurant on the patio, and following that, a Cigar Lounge upstairs.

No wonder Tampa has “St Pete envy” – we’re a desirable place to live, work and play.

3/23/08 addition: Paul Swider wrote about this in the St Pete Times today.

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400 Beach – Luxury Downtown Condo – St Petersburg FL

400 Beach is the latest luxury condo to open along Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg. Closings began in December 2007 and the first residents moved in. Closings of the developer units are continuing. So far, 30 of the 93 units have closed.

There are currently 15 units on the market, ranging from $749,000 to $5,500,000. Five of the 15 units are developer owned. Four units are offered for annual lease, ranging from $4,000/month to $5,500/month. For those who are curious – the cost per square foot ranged from $344 to $581, with an average of $421/sq ft.

Shops and restaurants will line Beach Drive and 4th Avenue North on the sidewalk level – there are posters in the windows but none have yet opened. Above these are “city” homes. Then the recreation level – the pool deck overlooks the park and waterfront.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Ovation Update St Petersburg Florida

Caissons continue to be driven down for the foundation of Ovation, the premier luxury highrise condominium on Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg. Actually the caissons are vibrated down into the ground rather than being driven – a real benefit for the ears of nearby residents and businesses. These caissons are from 40 ft high to 100 ft high, and have diameters ranging from 2 feet to 4 feet – so they are huge when standing up on the ground! Once they are secured in the ground, concrete is poured down, and after that has set, the casing is pulled up, again through vibration.  There will be about 195 of these foundation supports on that block. It’s interesting to watch the progress of this building – and easy to do, since it’s at the corner of Beach Drive and 2nd Avenue N. – in between BayWalk and The Pier.

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