ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Big changes are underway in St. Petersburg's historic Kenwood neighborhood. The crime-ridden Mosley Motel is gone, alongside a long-vacant office park. In its place are three new luxury apartment buildings, with two more luxury apartments on the way.
Miami real estate firm Altis Cardinal is getting ready to start on the last phase of development for the Elements on Third complex, a 10-acre residential campus with six buildings. Three of the buildings: Sea Glass Tower (178 units), Sunshine Flats (48 units) and Stone Lofts (78 units) are already complete. Crews will start construction later this month on two additional buildings: Steel Lofts (77-78 units) and Wood Flats (48 units).
The $55-million development project, alongside a Cube Storage Facility, sits on the former site of the Mosley Motel. The motel was long known in St. Pete for high crime, drug dealing, prostitution and loitering. St. Pete city leaders fought for years to get the building demolished.
The project is a big deal for the Historic Kenwood neighborhood.
Atlis Cardinal took ownership of the property in 2015. At the time, St. Petersburg Police officers were being called daily for crime reports at the Mosley Motel and surrounding 34th Street North. Now, police office reports show just 35 calls for crime over the past two years.
City leaders tell ABC Action News crime from the Mosley Motel sometimes spilled into the nearby neighborhood.
Since Atlis invested in the Kenwood neighborhood, there have been other expansions as well. The SPCA veterinary center opened up a new campus. The old Circle K gas station on the corner of 5th Avenue North and 34th Street North underwent a multi-million dollar renovation and became a 7-Eleven.
"We're changing this block into somewhere people really want to be versus where they wanted to turn away from," Evie Law, the Vice President of Operations for Intel Residential added.
The developers of the new apartments are also working alongside Kenwood neighbors and St. Pete leaders to make the area more walk-able and connected to the Central Avenue corridor.
“We’re proud to expand our footprint in the most dynamic, up-and-coming city in the state of Florida,” said Frank Guerra, principal and founder of Altis Cardinal.
Rent at the new Elements on Third buildings varies from $1,275 to $2,050. The two newest buildings are about 26% leased, according to Incore Residential, which is heading up the property management and leasing on-site.
Long-time Kenwood business owners like Joseph Whitelock are overjoyed by the new development. Whitelock has owned a law firm on 5th Avenue North for 40 years.
"Everything is much more vibrant. I can now go around the neighborhood and not feel afraid. I used to look out my window here and see drug dealers and prostitutes all day long," he explained.
Whitelock also owns several properties that he rents out. He says every time he has a vacancy he gets hundreds of applicants.
"This is the hottest neighborhood in town right now," he said with a smile.