A key block on Central Avenue with two vacant, deteriorating buildings that have long been a blockade to progress may finally have a future as a prime development site.
A lucrative 99-year lease that doesn’t expire until 2058 between the property owners and a real estate investment trust has given the owners little incentive to sell. They stand to collect about $700,000 a year for 43 more years or $30 million. And the REIT locked into the lease has little incentive to renovate a building on land it doesn’t own.
But the owners — members of the Pheil family, who are descendants of a 1912 St. Petersburg mayor — and the REIT, California-based First States Investors, seem to have worked out a plan to unfreeze the property at 424 Central Ave.
“You are talking about basically a city block right in the heart of where everything is happening. This is just an incredible opportunity,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said.