Construction begins on tallest building in Pinellas County

- Construction of what will become Pinellas County's tallest building is now underway, three months ahead of schedule. 

"We've had such a phenomenal response" ONE St. Petersburg project manager Brian Van Slyke said. "We have over $85 million in committed sales, and we've gone ahead and accelerated the construction schedule."

On Monday, crews fenced off the "Tropicana block," named after a historic structure that's soon to be bulldozed. 

"As quickly as we can," Van Slyke said. "We're slated to take it down over the next few weeks."

ONE St. Petersburg will include a 41-story, 253-unit condominium tower. As well as a 13-story Hyatt-branded hotel and 17,000 square feet of street-level retail space. 

The developer claims the finished product will create 150 new jobs. The three-year construction process will require 350 to 500 workers on site every day. 

"This is huge. This is one of the biggest projects St. Pete's undertaken in a long time and it's going to be impactful" Chamber of Commerce president Chris Steinocher said. "You're talking about a critical mass of folks that are going to be here for a longer period of time."

The Detroit Liquor store right across the street expects an increase in business during construction. So does Fortunato's Italian Kitchen, which offers fast and affordable lunches. 

"We're going to increase our workforce by at least a person or two for the lunch rush while the guys are here," manager Tony Wickop told FOX 13.

Coincidentally, local art collector Tom James has purchased the bottom two floors of the South Core parking garage right across from the ONE St. Petersburg project. James intends to fill those floors with a new 110,000 square-foot museum. 

"When both projects are done, and we should be coming online at about the same time, it'll really help connect Central Avenue and will connect Central over to Beach (Drive)" Van Slyke said. 

Steinocher agreed with the prediction.

"It's an exciting time when you have two of your core blocks of your downtown being redeveloped at the same time," he said.

James has yet to reveal his detailed plans, but the Kolter Group, ONE St. Petersburg's developer, said its project will require over $90 million in construction employment and labor wages, with material purchases generating $3.6 million in sales tax collections. 

It claims the completed hotel will boost county hotel bed tax collections by $500,000 a year and the entire project will pay an estimated $5.5 million a year in property taxes.

The project's completion date is now late 2018.

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