The Central Rises in St Petersburg EDGE District

The Central Rises in St Petersburg EDGE District  cover picture shows rendering of high rise building.

The Central Rises in St Petersburg EDGE District:  The Central: A Monumental Mixed-Use Development for Downtown St. Petersburg


With shovels having officially broken ground, downtown St. Petersburg is welcoming an exciting new mixed-use development called The Central. Located in the EDGE District at 1301 Central Avenue, the 2.1-acre project will feature an upscale hotel, Class A office space, apartments, retail, and more. The development represents major progress and investment in the city’s future.

A Joint Collaboration Furthermore, The Central is a collaborative effort between several seasoned developers, including J Square Developers, DDA Development, Ellison Development, and Backstreets Capital. Together, they bring a wealth of experience having worked on other notable St. Petersburg projects. As expressed by Ellison Development CEO Casey Ellison, “We’re thrilled about partnering with Mayor Ken Welch and the City of St. Petersburg on a development honoring the city’s past yet meeting future demands.”

Hotel and Amenities Additionally, the 15-story hotel will be part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection brand. The hotel will provide guests with attractive amenities like a restaurant, bar, conference space, theater, fitness center, and rooftop pool. Impressively, the fitness facilities will even be open to the public through memberships. Beyond lodging, the hotel therefore promises to be an amenity-rich gathering place for visitors and residents alike.

The Central Rises in St Petersburg EDGE District:  Class A Office Space

Moreover, The Central will house the first Class A office space built downtown since the 1980s within a 12-story tower. The 125,000 square feet of premium office real estate aims to entice employers through state-of-the-art design and technology. As noted by Ellison, “It’ll be ideal for employers looking to bring teams back to the office.”

Retail and Public Gathering Places Furthermore, The Central will contain 14,000 square feet of ground floor retail along Central Avenue and 1st Avenue North. An public plaza at the east end aspires to be a vibrant community hub with dining and shopping options. The retail and public spaces intend to energize the streetscape through pedestrian activity.

Honoring an Important Chapter in the City’s History Additionally, the development will feature a monument honoring the historic Courageous 12 – a group of 12 Black police officers who sued the city in the 1960s for equal rights. Sculpted by nationally renowned local artist Ya La’Ford, funding for the monument will be provided in part by a generous $150,000 donation from Premier Eye Care CEO Lorna Taylor. The monument symbolizes confronting injustice while forging racial progress. As commented by Mayor Ken Welch, “Together, we honor St. Petersburg’s past while forging an era of inclusivity.”

The Central Rises in St Petersburg EDGE District:  Providing Workforce Housing

Moreover, along 1st Avenue North, The Central will contain a 7-story, 42-unit workforce apartment building reserved for households earning at 120% area median income. As Ellison acknowledged, “Workforce housing is a critical need for the city.” The apartments will assist many working individuals and families in finding stable housing downtown.

The Central Rises in St Petersburg EDGE District:  A Long Time Coming

Furthermore, The Central has been years in the making, originally emerging from a request for proposal process under former Mayor Rick Kriseman. The ambitious vision has evolved over time into its current form, having previously incorporated luxury condos and more office space. With the finalized plans and construction underway, the realization of the development represents a major milestone for the city.

The Central Rises in St Petersburg EDGE District:  Looking Ahead

As construction presses forward, the workforce housing is slated to finish first, potentially welcoming residents by 2025. Finally, the collective project has an expected completion date of Spring 2026. When completed, The Central will undeniably stand as one of downtown’s most significant mixed-use developments, spurring economic growth and contributing to a vibrant urban lifestyle. For a city on the rise like St. Petersburg, The Central symbolizes tapping into its immense promise and potential.


The Central Rises in St Petersburg EDGE District:  The Project Team

Additionally, The Central has assembled an accomplished team to lead the development, including project partners and contractors. For example, the design team consists of Harvard Jolly Architecture, which brings decades of architect experience across Florida. The general contractor is Batson-Cook Construction, a leading commercial builder known for quality and innovation. And the project’s civil engineer isClearview Land Design, a highly regarded local firm. The caliber of talent involved underscores the significance of The Central to reimagining downtown.

The Central Rises in St Petersburg EDGE District:  Economic Impact

Moreover, beyond just the buildings itself, The Central will stimulate the local economy through new jobs, tax revenue, and adjacent growth. Construction alone will support hundreds of jobs. And once completed, the hotel, offices, and retailers will employ many more. Plus the development will expand the city’s tax base over the long run. The Central also promises to raise surrounding property values and spur new restaurants, shops, and housing. As Mayor Welch noted, it “symbolizes resilience post-pandemic.”

The Central Rises in St Petersburg EDGE District:  Parking Considerations

Furthermore, parking needs factored heavily into The Central’s planning. The 548-space parking garage will not only serve building tenants but also be available to the general public. Shared public parking represents a more efficient approach than reserved spots, benefitting businesses across downtown. And accommodating parking was likely necessary to obtain financing for the large project. Still, some urbanists argue abundant parking undermines the city’s transit goals.

The Central Rises in St Petersburg EDGE District:  Design Overview

Additionally, although renders have teased The Central’s style, specifics remain limited. However, Ellison has hinted at an art deco theme to honor the city’s history. And a pedestrian-friendly experience will likely define the street-level facades. Expect plenty of glass for transparency too. While firm details are lacking, the design will undoubtedly aim to wow while paying homage to St. Petersburg’s heritage.

The Central Rises in St Petersburg EDGE District:  A Development Boom

Furthermore, The Central comes amid a surge of development activity in St. Petersburg sparked by intense housing demand. The city has experienced remarkable population growth in recent years with no signs of slowing down. Driven by its beaches, arts scene, and vibrant downtown, St. Petersburg attracts scores of new residents each year, including retirees and remote workers. Yet housing supply has struggled to keep pace, sending rents and home prices skyrocketing.

Accordingly, the city has a massive need for all types of housing – from luxury to workforce. Developers have responded enthusiastically with dozens of new housing projects sprouting up. From small-scale apartment buildings to major mixed-use towers, construction cranes dot the landscape across St. Petersburg. The Central slots neatly into this development boom, adding workforce units to bolster housing diversity. As demolitions make way for shiny new buildings, the city skyline continues evolving. So while housing affordability remains a nagging issue, at least supply is gearing up to meet the overwhelming demand.

Looking to the Future Finally, The Central will reshape downtown St. Petersburg’s future. But it also poses some questions. For example, will the new Class A office space suffer from a post-pandemic glut as companies stick with remote work? Or will employers flock to the amenities and dynamic location? Additionally, will the public spaces foster a vibrant community heartbeat beyond working hours? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain – The Central guarantees to keep downtown moving forward for decades to come.


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Rob Johnson
Realtor, St. Petersburg FL