St. Pete City Council approves Coquina Key Plaza redevelopment despite residents’ refusal
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Despite strong opposition from many residents who live near Coquina Key Plaza, St. Pete City Council voted 6-1 to approve a deal with a developer and its rezoning application to transform the retail and apartment site.
“It seems like a town that developers are in control of,” said Walter Border, president of the Bahama Shores Neighborhood Association.
Since the closure of the Save-A-Lot food store at Coquina Key Plaza, many residents say their southern St. Pete neighborhood is now a food wasteland.
“We have an area of almost three miles with no groceries anyway,” said Andrew Fivecoat.
Borden lives less than a mile from the deserted strip mall.
“For me, I have a car,” he said. “I drive to Publix and it’s not a problem, but there are a lot of older people in the neighborhood who don’t have proper transportation.”
Despite Borden and several intervenors’ refusal at a second public hearing Thursday night, the city council approved Stoneweg US LLC’s plan for mixed-use space with retail and up to 465 apartments.
Twenty percent of the units will be designated as Affordable Workforce Housing.
“Something that’s been difficult for the city to get developers to do in our partnerships and they’re doing it on their own,” City Council President Gina Driscoll said ahead of the vote.
Residents wanted council to reject the developer’s plan because they say it doesn’t leave enough space for a large supermarket.
The promoter’s lawyer said he recently received a letter of intent from a food retailer.
“We’re working and reiterating those terms to get to the final point to sign a lease,” Craig Taraszki said, “but we’re very confident we can get there with this tenant or another.”
But residents who feel the city council did not digest the information they presented said they were unconvinced the developer would have a solution to their neighborhood’s needs.
“Five thousand square feet is not a big grocery store,” Borden said. “It’s definitely not a grocery store with a pharmacy.”
Taraszki said he could not reveal which food retailer submitted the letter of intent due to a confidentiality agreement.
Then the developer will apply for building permits and construction at Coquina Key Plaza could begin in late spring or summer.