In order to lure anchor tenants to the new BayWalk, which will be called 'the Shops at St. Pete', owner Bill Edwards and Loan Ranger Acquisitions are asking city officials for parking help.
They are asking to purchase 180 parking spaces and validation agreements at the existing parking garage located on the north side of 1st Avenue N between 1st and 2nd Street North.
According to a memo from Mayor Bill Foster to City Council;
The "agreements are designed to ensure there is adequate and attractive nearby parking for (the Shops at St. Pete) employees and customers at the City's mid-core garage. In order to attract certain key tenants, it is imperative that Loan Ranger Acquisitions, has the ability to provide an allocation of parking space commensurate with the duration of their lease."
In the agreement, Loan Ranger Acquisitions would pay for 180 parking spaces on the roof of the existing garage for tenants at the Shops at St. Pete and their employees at a group rate. There will also be a parking validation agreement similar to the one the city currently has with Muvico, according to Foster. Customers that have their receipt validated at the Shops at St. Pete would be able to park for free for up to four hours in the garage.
If the agreement is approved by city council at the Sept. 20 meeting, the city could reap major savings, according to Foster.
According to city documents, the city's projected savings in year one of the new BayWalk parking agreement would be $99,000. In year two, $379,000.
Edwards, the Shops at St. Pete and Loan Ranger Acquisitions, according to the memo, will streamline security and take on more public corridor maintenance around the garage.
In a Sept. 3 letter to Foster, Edwards said parking for employees and customers is "paramount."
"In order for the Edwards Group (aka Loan Ranger Acquisitions LLC) to invest tens of millions of dollars to position the (Shops at St. Pete) as the key driver for our downtown a commitment to customer and employee parking is paramount and absolutely required to attain the high quality tenants who are so greatly needed in our downtown region.
A key decision maker for national brands and restaurateurs is easy and accessible free parking, especially for the center's first year. Thereafter, a low cost customer validation program for the center will be essential for its long-term success. The (Shops at St. Pete's) No. 1 competitor, International Mall, has preferred surface parking and it is free to their customers."
According to the same letter, Edwards said the Shops at St. Pete would be a mixture of national and local tenants.
Edwards said the construction of the Shops at St. Pete would be 12-16 month project. Included in the project, according to Edwards' letter, would be illuminated tower elements, expanded 2nd level balconies and outdoor dining decks and creating a new courtyard area.
"It is envisioned that the retail merchants will be joined by two nationally acclaimed celebrity chefs - destination restaurants," Edwards writes in the letter.
In the memo, Foster urges the council to help Edwards make The Shops at St. Pete successful.
"Mr. Edwards and his staff have made a significant investment of time and financial resources to bring the former BayWalk complex back to the threshold of success; and, it is anticipated that the design and construction costs for the project will approach BayWalks' original construction cost. If council approves the attached agreements, Mr. Edwards will be positioned to finalize leases with his key anchor tenants and be able to initiate construction early next year. Once the (the Shops at St. Pete) is completed, it is estimated that approximately 400 people will be employed in full and part-time positions."
The terms of the agreement, if approved, would not expire until 2033.