‘Local boys’ take on major development in the EDGE District

November 26, 2019

By Margie Manning

Hometown roots are a big part of the reason Jay Miller, president of J Square Developers, is excited about developing a $70 million mixed-use project in the EDGE District.

“I’m a St. Pete native and to be honest, I enjoy developing here in St. Pete in my hometown more than I do out of town,” Miller said. “It’s nice to be able to drive by the projects we develop and see how they turn out, and feel proud.”

Miller is a principal in EDGE Central Development Partners, the team selected by Mayor Rick Kriseman to redevelop the site of the former St. Petersburg Police headquarters at 1300 1st Ave. N.

Edge Central’s project will include 100,000 square feet of Class A office space, a 600-space parking garage with 400 public parking spaces, 60 market-rate condos and 30 workforce rental housing units, 22,000 square feet of retail space and an outdoor public plaza.

It will be the first sizable speculative office development in downtown in many years. It comes as the downtown office market increasingly is squeezed, with vacancy rates expected to drop below 5 percent by the end of this year, Miller said. Without enough vacant office space, it is difficult to attract and retain businesses.

A term sheet calls for the city to sell a cleared development site to EDGE Central for $6.4 million. The purchase price was discounted from fair market value based on the planned office development and the economic impact it would have on the city. The purchase price could be cut by as much as $1 million if EDGE Central takes on the demolition itself.

Provided the city council approves the agreement, Miller hopes demolition will start within 12 months, with construction expected to take an additional 18 to 24 months.

‘Another level’

Like Miller, the other members of the EDGE Central team also have deep roots in the area.

“We’re the local boys,” Miller said.

Bowen Arnold is the founder of DDA Development, a Tampa company with a significant background in multifamily development. DDA will take the lead on the residential development for EDGE Central.

William Conroy is a St. Pete-based real estate attorney at the Johnson Pope law firm, and Craig Sher is executive chairman of The Sembler Co. in St. Petersburg. Both are long-standing residents of the area.

They all have watched the EDGE District evolve over a number of years.

“It already has an eclectic mix of some of the most popular independent restaurants and shops in St. Pete,” Miller said. “It has a youthful vibe and tends to attract a younger clientele.”

The EDGE Central project, along with a hotel, retail and co-working project unveiled last week by PTM Partners, will take the EDGE District to another level, with higher density and more mixed use elements, Miller said.

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