Bill Edwards kickstarts major new development for downtown St. Pete

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Downtown St. Petersburg will see a significant mixed-use development, in a deal spearheaded by high-profile executive Bill Edwards.

On Wednesday, the Edwards Group joined The Kolter Group in announcing plans for a key block of St. Petersburg bordered by Central and 1st Ave. N., and 1st and 2nd Streets

The project stems from Kolter’s acquisition of the block from an Edwards Group affiliate in July, and is expected to be a two-tower complex with condominium, hotel, retail and parking.

“It’s exciting for St. Petersburg and important for St. Petersburg,” Bill Edwards told Alexis Muellner of the Tampa Bay Business Journal. “The block has been tied up for 12 to 14 years as a dirt lot and it’s the most valuable piece or real estate in St. Pete and I’m thrilled I was able to free it up.”

Edwards released a statement saying he chose Kolter after a search for a firm that will develop the property in a manner appropriate for the new direction of St. Petersburg.

“There is a clear demand for more condominiums and a new quality hotel downtown, Edwards said. “I am confident The Kolter Group will build something very special for the city.”

“We love St. Petersburg,” said Kolter CEO Group Bobby Julien.  “The city’s downtown is emerging as one of the nation’s special urban centers, and we are excited to be a part of its future.”

“This is the single most pivotal block in downtown St. Petersburg,” said former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, the current president of the Edwards Group. “It has been dormant for years, and it became clear that purchasing it was the best way to energize the development community.”

Headquartered in Palm Beach County, Kolter is a private investment firm specializing in real estate development, investment and construction.

“The development of this block is vital to downtown’s momentum,” said St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce President Chris Steinocher.  “We applaud The Edwards Group for kick-starting the effort and The Kolter Group for moving forward with this exciting project.”

Kolter, through its Residential and Hospitality affiliates, underwrote more than $10 billion since 1993 in a broad spectrum of real estate projects, as well $16 billion in real estate transactions. The company’s residential arm develops urban high-density as well as low-rise suburban projects. Current L Kolter investments include nearly 13,000 residences in projects across the Southeast.

Kolter’s Hospitality arm, which received the 2012 Hyatt Developer of the Year award, currently owns and operates four upscale hotels totaling over 600 rooms, including the Hyatt Place-branded hotels in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach and the Hilton Garden Inn Palm Beach Gardens.  Kolter is also developing a full service Westin in Sarasota..

The downtown St. Petersburg development expects to break ground sometime in the first quarter of 2015, with a projected completion date in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.