Apartment Living, Restaurants, Retail, and A Lazy River – Phillips’ Development in the Skyway Marina District


St. Petersburg’s Skyway Marina District, located 4 miles from Downtown St. Petersburg, is the proposed location of a 300-unit multi-family, mixed-use development. Respected real estate developer, Donald Phillips and his firm, Phillips Development and Realty (PDR), are at the helm of this sweeping project.

With this project, Phillips will develop a property that has held promise for years but has yet to see significant improvement. The 9-acre parcel has a long history of unmet potential due to economic conditions. With the economy on the rebound and St. Petersburg seeing enormous growth, the timing could not be better for this endeavor. In fact, last year, according to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Pinellas County saw an increase in sales tax revenue, housing permits, and a decrease in the overall poverty rate. Another interesting statistic shows that in 2016, Pinellas saw $229.44M worth of income migrate into the St. Petersburg area.

The Skyway Marina District, established in 2013, is located along 34th Street South, between 30th Avenue and 54th Avenue. The vision for the district was developed in partnership with elected officials of St. Petersburg, its residents, city planners, and business owners. The plan, which can be found at StPete.org, includes new streetscaping, guidelines for land use, transportation solutions, economic development initiatives, and even marketing and promotion recommendations. According to St. Petersburg Mayor, Rick Kriseman, “The Skyway Marina District is the southern Gateway to St Petersburg and Pinellas County. This site is in an urban infill area with mixed socio-economics, strong income levels, and easy access to major transportation nodes, beaches, sports, and major employers.”

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Phillips’ $70M project would the first mixed-use project in the Skyway Marina District and has been well-received by local stakeholders. PDR, a development firm based out of Tampa, Florida, has identified the project as an opportunity to capitalize on the initiatives for the district and drive economic prosperity to the area. PDR has been involved in large-scale, mixed-use, and upscale residential real estate projects all over the Southeast, including current projects in Charlotte, NC and Cary, NC. According to their website, “PDR chooses projects with the interest of communities, the environment, and investors in mind.”

Donald Phillips himself has developed a strong working relationship with the local community as well as local elected officials. These relationships have ensured plenty of local buy-in not just from local government but also local neighborhood associations, businesses, and regional economic development groups.

Senator Darryl Rouson wrote that “Mr. Phillip’s company is known to be a provider of achievable rental housing that is built with quality and consideration for the community at large.” Senator Rouson strongly believes that this project will benefit the community in numerous ways, and reaffirmed his support of the development, emphasizing the “…overwhelming support for this project at all levels of the community.”

Mayor Kriseman, in a letter to PDR, has pledged the City’s “complete support of the proposed project by Phillips Development in the Skyway Marina District.” Affirming that PDR’s proposal fits well with the vision for the District, Mayor Kriseman stated, “The City has agreed to provide $1 million in public improvements adjacent to the site to directly enhance this project, recognizing that Phillips Development is the first developer to propose a major development in the District. This commitment is in addition to the $1.6 million expended or budgeted for public improvements that include gateway signage, landscaping, pedestrian lighting and banners, and bus shelters within the Skyway Marina District.”

While not uncommon, it is unusual for large development and construction projects to gain near-unilateral support at multiple levels.

The plans for the 9-acre development are far reaching. There will be multiple aspects of the project aimed at creating a multimodal, walkable community center with a large variety of amenities.

The property, located on the Southeast corner of US 19 and 30th Avenue South, is close in proximity to St. Petersburg College, the Skyway Mall, and other new shopping centers and urban developments. The addition of a rebuilt Publix a few block South of the development exemplifies the growth and improving business environment in the Skyway Marina District.

Conceptual site plan

Of all the different aspects of the project, none are more anticipated than the 300 multi-family living units. These cutting-edge living quarters will bring more walking traffic to the district and because they are near major employers, will allow employees to live close to work. Furthermore, these new living spaces will be priced competitively compared to those at near-by, downtown properties.  The Skyway project will make living in bustling St. Petersburg attainable for thousands.

In addition to the residential component, PDR also plans on constructing close to 13,000 SF of restaurant and commercial space. This dedicated space will host 2-3 restaurants, retail, and entertainment venues. Not only will the restaurant and retail space provide an increase in jobs and sales tax revenue to the area, it will also create a vibrant atmosphere in the Skyway Marina District. PDR has included plans for a “lazy river” to flow throughout the property. The “lazy river,” a proposed sand volleyball court, and a courtyard-style pool deck are amenities PDR hopes will attract millennials, young professionals, and active individuals.

Finally, in a recent addition to the plan, PDR intends to build 100,000 SF of attractive Class A, climate-controlled self-storage space adding a convenient and up-to-date solution for the area’s residents and businesses. The proposed architectural plans add an artistic element to the property and a unique play on the typical storage facility.

The goal of the development is to incorporate all the aspects of the project into a cohesive community. With the inclusion of so many diverse elements, the location has a truly exceptional chance to succeed as an urban center within the District. In addition to working within the guidelines of the Skyway Marina District Plan, Phillips has sought to infuse St. Petersburg’s incredible art scene. The project will incorporate a mural highlighting local artists on the parking deck. The mural will be visible from I-275 and will celebrate St. Petersburg’s diverse artistic culture.