Local developers were delivered a serious blow Thursday when for the 3rd time City Council was split 4-4 on approving a development proposed for the southwest corner of 1st Street and 4th Avenue N. Bezu, renamed Blue Lotus, would have been a 50,000 square foot, 19-story building with 20 residential units. Opposed by next door neighbors in the Flori-de-leon building, the development met all the criteria for approval of the proposed 5.0 floor to area ratio. The St. Pete Chamber fully supported this project from the beginning for several reasons:
- The developer asked for ZERO variances
- City staff fully supported the project
- The developer purchased the property for $3M trusting the city would follow the current zoning rules and approve the development
- Denying the development’s approval would send a message to the development community that the rules in St. Pete can be ignored if the neighbors don’t like the project
The St. Pete Chamber applauds Council members Charlie Gerdes, Ed Montanari, Brandi Gabbard, and Amy Foster, who voted to approve the project. Despite our disappointment in Steve Kornell, Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, Darden Rice, and Gina Driscoll who all voted against the project, we look forward to working with them to encourage development throughout our city.
Already defending the Development Review Commission in a lawsuit approving the project, the City Legal Department may now be faced with the unique circumstance of defending multiple lawsuits from both sides.