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New Christie’s Affiliation for The Simms Team in St Petersburg, Florida

Coastal Propertyies Group

Christie’s St Petersburg


On January 1st, The Simms Team merged with Coastal Properties Group, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate in Tampa Bay.  We’ve enjoyed our five years owning ALVA International, a boutique real estate company in downtown St Petersburg, but realize that the real estate market is changing and we need to change with it. We’ll continue to operate as The Simms Team, as we have for many years, and will now have the additional resources of Coastal and Christie’s International to offer our clients.  We’ll offer the same personal service but with more tools and reach. Christie’s – yes, the same as the auction house – has provided integrity, expertise and exemplary service since  1766. Alex and Laren Jansen opened Coastal Properties Group on Clearwater Beach in July 2012 and have been making waves in north Pinellas county ever since. St Petersburg is Coastal’s sixth office, with a seventh soon to open on Treasure Island.

Come in and see our redecorated office at 238 Beach Drive NE in downtown St Pete. Join us for a cup of coffee and we can talk about everything that’s happening in real estate. We’re living in exciting and interesting times. photo 1

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Straub Park St Petersburg Christmas preparations

Preparing Christmas displays in north Straub Park in downtown St Petersburg

North Straub Park


This morning as I passed North Straub Park in downtown St Petersburg I noticed a parked trailer (sans cab) marked X-MAS and many City of St Petersburg workers preparing a Christmas display. The gray skies reminded me of pre-holiday days up north.

But it’s only the first half of November! For me, that’s too early to be seeing Christmas displays. Later in the morning I was shopping at CVS and saw that they already had Christmas cards on display. Call me old-fashioned, but I want to wait until December to see Christmas decorations.

A week ago I was at The Grande condominiums on Sand Key and was surprised to see their lobby already had Christmas trees and decorations.

When are you ready to see Christmas decorations and displays?

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Savory Spice Shop now delivers in downtown St Petersburg

Savory Spice Shop delivers by tricycle in downtown St Pete

Paul Bailey - the Spice Pedaler

The Savory Spice Shop now delivers in downtown St Petersburg. Have you seen Paul Bailey delivering spices on his new tricycle? Perhaps you’ve seen it in front of the Savory Spice Shop just Off Beach at 400 Beach Drive NE. Paul and his wife, Joan, own the Savory Spice Shop which is a great place to shop for spices, recipes and advice. Yelp has several Savory Spice reviews from people who’ve been there. You can also check out the Savory Spice facebook page.

Sometimes Paul is delivering spices to some of his restaurant clients, like Tryst, Crowleys and Z-Grille. Other times he’s delivering to guests at the Vinoy who shopped but didn’t want to carry their purchases back. So – if you live or work downtown, consider using Savory’s unique and complimentary delivery service.

Looking for the perfect gift? Savory has several gift sets already prepared or can customize one for you. Just think – you don’t even have to go out to get your gifts – have Paul deliver them for you. Now that’s easy and personalized  gift giving.  And for easy and personalized house hunting – contact The Simms Team at ALVA International, 237 Beach Drive NE.

Search Downtown St Petersburg Condos for Sale

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Hotel lobby on the top floor – condo amenities on the top floor

Bayfront Tower common area view

View from Bayfront Tower

Times and trends change, including the best use for the top floor of a building. Remember when hotel restaurants used to be on the top floor, and perhaps even rotating? Then they moved them down to the lobby floor, losing the panoramic view. USA Today wrote this morning about a new hotel where the LOBBY will be on the top floor (70th story, in Los Angeles).

Let’s look at the top floor in downtown St Pete condos. The newest buildings all use the top floor prime space for penthouses. Bayfront Tower was the first highrise condo in downtown St Pete, built in 1975. The entire top floor, the 28th, is common area, all 31,000 sq ft of it. The rooftop, the 29th floor, is also common area with a swimming pool, jogging track, barbecue area, etc. So, all the residents can enjoy the 360° view, inside and out. So those whose condos have a city view or distant Gulf view can enjoy morning coffee watching the sunrise or afternoon cocktails watching the sunset. Bayfront Tower is the only downtown St Pete condo whose top floor can be enjoyed by all the residents.



and contact The Simms Team at ALVA International, Inc. for all your real estate need.



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St Pete takes America’s #1 Arts Destination again

Museum of Fine Arts St Petersburg presented a Botero exhibition

Botero visits Museum of Fine Arts St Petersburg

St Petersburg has been named America’s #1 Arts Destination for mid-sized cities for the third year in a row by AmericanStyle magazine. The magazine refers to St Pete’s “world famous arts institutions and top ranked galleries” as well as a “lively public and performing arts scene” and even makes reference to our great white sand beaches.

Mid-sized cities refers to those with a population of under 500,000 (so includes cities twice the size of St Pete).  Tampa placed #3 and Miami #7. Atlanta ranked #8.

Two of our neighboring cities took top positions in the small city category: Sarasota ranked #1, Bradenton #2 and Key West #4. They edged out previous top small cities of Sante Fe and Asheville.

It’s wonderful to live in a place with so many art choices surrounding us in the St Pete area. If you’d like to explore relocating to St Petersburg, contact the Simms Team at ALVA International, Inc on Beach Drive in downtown St Petersburg.

City of St Pete talks about the arts  6/18/12

St Petersburg named #1 Arts Destination for second time.  6/10/11

Botero bronzes at Museum of Fine Arts.  12/21/09

Chihuly in downtown St Petersburg  5/7/11

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Do you need that extra bedroom in your downtown St Pete condo?

 Whether you’re looking for a 2 bedroom condo or a 3 bedroom condo in downtown St Petersburg, it’s worth asking whether you need that extra bedroom. If it’s for an office you’re going to be using everyday, or a craft/game room, or for a permanent resident, you probably do need it. My question is whether you need the extra guest bedroom. Is it for a family member who only comes for one week during the year? Is it for friends who may be there a couple of weeks a year? Consider the cost of buying the extra bedroom and then the additional maintenance cost and utilities. Compare that to the cost of putting them in a hotel nearby. There are downtown St Peterburg hotels in a variety of price ranges and several Bed & Breakfast inns. Some of the hotels are right next door to a condo.

Moving down from the north? Consider whether you want to be a hotel. Close friends will probably be welcome, but a series of acquaintances perhaps won’t be. Can you easily say No to a request to visit you? 

Perhaps you don’t want a smaller condo – you may still buy a 3 bedroom condo but make it into a 1 bedroom condo with 2 offices. Think outside the box on how you really want to use the condo you’re buying. Think smaller, think larger, think repurposing. 

Would some outside input help? A brainstorming session? Helping you with these things is just one of the things that you get from The Simms Team. Contact Sharon, Tami or Rob to meet with you early in the process, when you’re starting to explore whether you even want to move to a condo. 

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Bring Apple to downtown St Pete!

BayWalk in downtown St Petersburg

 Bill Edwards plans to open up the front of Baywalk, rename it, and fill it with tenants we’ll want to patronize. One of the companies he’s talking with is Apple. Yes, yes, please bring Apple to St Pete. An Apple store would keeps locals coming back and attract visitors as well. 


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Saturday Morning Market or Gasparilla Invasion and Parade?

 It’s Saturday morning in St Petersburg and as usual, you have lots of choices of what to do. Today is the annual Gasparilla Pirate Invasion in Tampa (11:30 – 1:00) and Parade (2-5:30). Lots of boats, crowds of people, more beads than you can count. For those who don’t want quite that much excitement, there’s the Saturday Morning Market in the Al Lang Stadium Parking Lot in downtown St Petersburg. Open from 9-2 the market features fresh produce, prepared foods, music, plants, crafts, jewelry and more. Even dogs are welcome at the Saturday Morning Market (yes, St Pete is dog friendly) as long as they are well behaved and on a short leash. After the market, enjoy a beverage in one of the many sidewalk cafes along Beach Drive.

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Dog friendly downtown St Pete has a Doggie Menu

Doggie Menu at Cassis Restaurant on Beach Drive

Doggie Menu at Cassis


Downtown St Pete is very dog friendly and most of the shops and restaurants along Beach Drive have water bowls and/or treats outside the door for their pet friends. Many of the restaurants allow – and encourage – pets at their outside tables. Cassis has raised the bar for pets and offers a Doggie Menu to anyone bringing their dog. And yes, the pet owners DO order from the menu for their pets.

Entrees include a Hot Diggity Dog, Mutt Loaf, Pup Monsieur (after all, Cassis IS a French restaurant), Bow Wow Chicken, Pooched Egg and Bon Appetit. Treats include the Arrf el Tower, the Bark de Triumph, and a glass of puppely.

It started with one water bowl and now everyone has them. One restaurant starting bringing water bowls to the tables with a pet and now several do. Will Cassis start a trend? Will we see more Doggie Menus at Beach Drive restaurants? Stay tuned.

It’s well known that Beach Drive in downtown St Pete is very pedestrian friendly. It’s also very dog friendly.

Want to know which condos are dog friendly? Ask The Simms Team at ALVA International, 238 Beach Drive NE in downtown St Petersburg.

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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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