City block frozen in time could soon be ripe for development

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.

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About Author

John William is a cum laude graduate of the University of Miami, and has spent his lifetime in sales and marketing. The fourth generation to join his family business, John William manages all luxury residential sales and transactions within the Tampa Bay and South Florida markets. A keen industry insider with a finger on the pulse of the area, He is an expert identifying high-return acquisition and development opportunities for hungry investors both large and small while simultaneously working with homeowners and homebuyers to buy and sell the home of their dreams… often times without the need of the MLS or a For Sale sign. He also oversees all digital and print marketing for the company, and handles all sales training for new and established agents alike. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Brookwood Florida, the oldest charity in Florida, and works to raise millions of dollars annually for local charities and museums.