Article Courtesy of The Tampa Bay Times
By Susan Taylor Martin
Published February 22, 2019
ST. PETERSBURG — In yet
another effort to win approval of their
contentious project, the developer of the
Bezu/Blue Lotus condo tower proposed for
downtown has revised the plans and requested
The newest renderings
of the 19-story, 18-unit tower show storefronts at ground
level and three floors with what appear to be windows of the
same size as those in the historic Flori de Leon apartments
next door. At street level, the tower would blend in better
with the Flori de Leon and nearby buildings than it did in
William Herrmann, a Flori de Leon resident who has led
opposition to the tower, hinted that the battle over the
project might finally be nearing an end.
"We are currently in settlement negotiations with the
developer, as such I am unable to give any comment on the
plans,'' he said Wednesday in an email. "All parties met
Tuesday with an agreement for the developer and the city to
provide clarification on one or more of the negotiation
points. We are awaiting that information.''
"I remain confident that we are on the right path,''
The developer, the Driven Ziggy, could not be reached for
comment. City planning director Elizabeth Abernethy said it
has requested a hearing before the City Council sitting as
the Community Redevelopment Agency although no date has been
Proposed for a vacant
lot at Fourth Avenue N and First Street, the project has
been mired in controversy ever since it was announced in
September 2017. Residents of the Flori De Leon, a 1920s
landmark once home to baseball greats Babe Ruth and Lou
Gehrig, and dozens of other opponents denounced the tower as
too big for its small lot and totally out of scale with
older, lower residences in the area.
A new rendering of proposed Bezu/Blue Lotus condo
tower planned for downtown St. Petersburg.
The project, originally called Bezu and renamed Blue Lotus, has ping-ponged
between city panels since late 2017. Both the Development Review Commission
and the council rejected the original plans, which called for a tower nearly
300 feet tall with 29 units.
The developer scaled back the building to 180 feet with 20 units, winning
approval from the review commission. Opponents unsuccessfully appealed that
decision to the City Council but had better luck in December when the
council, sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, failed to muster
enough votes to approve the project.
At that point, the developer sued the city, bringing to three the total
number of lawsuits involving the project.
Although he has not publicly spoken about the Bezu/Blue Lotus tower, Mayor
Rick Kriseman has expressed concern that the city risks scaring away
developers by not approving projects that meet city zoning and land use
"We have a code, and as long as a project follows the code we have an
obligation to permit that project to go forward,'' Kriseman said earlier
this month before the council approved another controversial project, a
21-story apartment tower near the historic Mirror Lake Community Library.