Like many a New Yorker before him, grocery store magnate and real estate developer John Catsimatidis, has decided to give Florida a go.
This week in St. Petersburg, the Gristedes owner broke ground on what, upon completion, will be the Florida Gulf Coast’s tallest residential tower, the 46-story, 301-unit luxury condo building, the Residences, at 400 Central.
Designed by Miami-based architecture firm Arquitectonica, the 1.3-million-square-foot tower will feature amenities like round-the-clock concierge services, a fitness center, theater, private dining room and a rooftop terrace outfitted with a pool and spa, putting green and bocce court. Units will range from two to four bedrooms and 1,277 to 5,600 square feet and come with open floor plans and floor-to-ceiling windows.
The building will also include an observation deck perched some 515 feet above downtown St. Petersburg where, as Catsimatidis envisions it, “you can lay back and look at the sky and the moon and fall in love again.”
In recent years, Catsimatidis has tried to bring a bit of Florida to New York City with his Coney Island rental complex Ocean Drive. This time around, he’s decided to go straight to the Sunshine State itself.
While he was born in Greece and raised in West Harlem, Catsimatidis has a connection to St. Petersburg through his wife, Margaret Vondersaar, whose parents moved to the city from Indianapolis 40 years ago.
“Her father always urged me to invest in St. Petersburg and that whole area, and an opportunity came along a few years ago, and I wrote a check,” Catsimatidis said.
St. Petersburg “is coming around,” he said. “You have a lot of young people. [The city] is becoming a real nifty town. A lot of boutiques — like the old Columbus Avenue where I grew up on the West Side. A lot of nifty people opening up all kinds of shops.”
Another, perhaps unexpected, benefit to living in St. Pete?
“Only two hurricanes in the last 100 years!” Catsimatidis said.
In fact, despite Florida’s stormy reputation, the last major hurricane to make landfall in the Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg area hit almost a century ago to the day, on Oct. 25, 1921.
“So there are no hurricanes, the weather is great and there are no [state income] taxes,” Catsimatidis said, detailing the city’s selling points. “Like 1,000 people a day are moving to Florida.”
Indeed, the state gained an estimated 330,000 new residents in 2020. Those new arrivals should provide 400 Central with a steady flow of potential buyers. In any case, the building has already notched at least one sale — Catsimatidis said he’ll be taking one of the penthouses.
Units start at $800,000 pre-construction. Catsimatidis said the project, which will also include 40,000 to 120,000 square feet of office space next door, will be completed in around two years.
In addition to the residential units, the building will feature 60,000 square feet of retail. Catsimatidis doesn’t anticipate having trouble filling the space, but, he said, “worse comes to worst, you know what I’m going to do?
“Open up a Gristedes!”
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