It wasn’t that long ago when St. Petersburg was a Florida joke. People called it God’s waiting room because of its very aged and not too well-heeled population. The place was depressing, especially compared to livelier cities to the south, one of which I reside in.
Times have changed.
For the first time in at least ten years, I drove up to St. Pete with friends to take an exhibition of work by Picasso and Dali, shown wonderfully side-by-side at the spectacular Dali Museum on the city’s waterfront.
Bustling Street Scene
Afterwards, we walked a few blocks along the water and wound up sitting outside at a very nice Italian restaurant called Bella Brava. There I enjoyed the people watching as much as I did the art.
Instead of the rolled-up-sidewalk town that I remember, the street was bustling: tourists checking out menus of the many restaurants, joggers, women with poofy dogs in baby carriages, lovers old and young, you name it.
My favorite was a kid on a skateboard wearing a tee shirt that said, “New York, London, Tokyo, St. Pete.” I wish I’d taken a picture.
We strolled a bit ourselves after a fine dinner. Everyone was impressed with the big city feel because there is so much residential development in the downtown area. I don’t think I’ve seen another area in Florida where you could get along without a car.
Office Development Coming
There’s not much in the way of office development, but smart money is buying. “Office space in St. Pete is still very reasonable,” said Peter Fischbach, commercial broker. “But there is more interest than anytime since 2007 in my opinion.”
Feldman Equities has just added a 17-story office tower anchored by B B & T Bank.
“As with our other downtown acquisitions, this is yet another opportunity for us to do what we do best — renovating and upgrading office buildings in order to maximize their value,” Feldman said in the release. “Downtown St. Pete has a higher quality of life than almost any other downtown in the state. It is a truly ‘walkable downtown’ with hundreds of acres of dedicated city parks that run along the waterfront.
“Downtown St. Pete is in the midst of an impressive revitalization with thousands of new residential units planned or under construction. We are thrilled to be a part of this re-urbanization trend,” said CEO Lary Feldman.