BayWalk Asks for Parking to Help Lure New Tenants

According to Mayor Bill Foster, the proposed agreement would help the Shops at St. Pete and save the city money.

In order to lure anchor tenants to , 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. 

Jeannie Cline September 12, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Sure wish the best of luck to Mr Edwards and Baywalk, they certainly have done a lot of positive things for St Pete already....just don't know where all these upscale customers are going to come from in the period from May til about Thanksgiving. It's mighty slow around here in that period, not to mention hot and humid. I still don't understand how an upscale mall is harmonious with a mainstream cinema and wonder, really, how well Muvico is doing with 20 theatres in such a small city, especially with easy parking and affordable pubs and restaurants at Park Place. Speaking of malls, how is BayWalk going to compete with the new international H & M store at Tyrone? Is Muvico going to follow suit and relocate to that nice mall?
S. Ripley September 12, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Sounds like a good move. Now, just keep the protesters and wannabe gangster kids away from the place, and things should be just fine.
Karen Reese September 12, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Yikes, those are some considerable variables. I personally think if Muvico were going to move they would have done it by now.
Jeannie Cline September 12, 2012 at 10:49 PM
I don't know, Ms. Reese, with the opening of the international store (read, big international store) H & M at Tyrone Mall, the whole dynamic shifts!....don't take me wrong, I am so glad and hopeful for Mr Edwards and am just raising questions, that's all. There is a reason that BayWalk has tanked for so long, the "pie" is only so big here and, really, there has just been a shift of the businesses from the old Baywalk to Beach Drive. There really is no net gain in population here and we are still pretty slow during the long, hot summer (which is on it's way out! HOORAY!) Be well!
Ashon Nesbitt September 14, 2012 at 07:21 PM
I think the wealth in this area is a lot deeper than we realize. We have a very laid back culture, so people aren't as flashy as they are in other places. With that in mind, who would have thought that International Mall would do so well? Even Brandon and Countryside are upscaling somewhat. Who would have expected H&M to go into Tyrone (even before Brandon)? Whole Foods considering a downtown St. Pete location?These are all signs that while population growth may be slow overall (at least for the time being), there are still shifting demographics that retailers can capitalize on. The right mix will do well at The Shops.


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