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Condos off to a smashing start

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Sledgehammer swings by dignitaries launch the first of several high-rise residential projects planned for downtown.By AARON SHAROCKMAN Published December 21, 2005station-square-ground-breakingCLEARWATER – Mayor Frank Hibbard and developer Felix Amon used sledgehammers to smash through the facade of an empty storefront Tuesday, making way for downtown’s first high-rise residential redevelopment.Station Square will rise along Cleveland Street in the heart of the downtown, next to the city’s historic post office.Foundation work on the 126-unit, 15-story tower will begin in February and the first owners will move in by the end of 2007, the Austrian-born developer said Tuesday.The high-rise will have one, maybe two restaurants, Amon said, bringing vitality to a project he’s dubbed “coastal urban.” The project’s design has not changed since the city approved a previous developer’s proposal in August 2004.Forty units are already spoken for, the developer said. Twenty buyers are from Europe, including Ireland, Czech Republic and Poland, Amon said.“The time has come,” said Amon, 46. “People want to live downtown.”Amon removed his black wristwatch as he and Hibbard hammered into the orange-tiled siding of the former Clearwater Custom Floors building before noon Tuesday. Later, Hibbard and City Council member Hoyt Hamilton smacked gold-plated sledgehammers into the side of the building.“This is the first residential high-rise building in downtown that’s going to be built,” Hibbard said. “It’s part of our vision for downtown Clearwater.”Units in the project will cost between $370,000 and $1.4-million, a far cry from the $1.6-million starting price at downtown St. Petersburg’s newly unveiled Ovation condo tower.Station Square units are smaller, Amon said, and geared toward working professionals who desire an urban atmosphere.“And still, you’re only two minutes by car and seven minutes on a bicycle from one of the most pristine beaches in the world,” Amon said.Amon, the president of Amon Investments of Daytona Beach, has undertaken about 20 projects, both single-family homes and condos, mostly in the Daytona Beach and Orlando areas, he said.In Tampa, he’s assembling land downtown for twin 51-story condominium towers connected by sky bridges. Called Tampa Towers, that project would include two 625-foot-tall towers that would reach higher than the planned Trump Tower Tampa.In Clearwater, Amon bought the rights to build Station Square in May: a project that had floundered for more than a year under a previous developer.At least four other high-rise residential projects are currently planned for downtown.“There’s opportunity here. There’s a city willing to partner,” Amon said. “You can see why people would want to experience this.”Times staff writer Steve Huettel contributed to this report.FIRST OUT OF THE GATENAME: Station SquareLOCATION: 628 Cleveland St.UNITS: 126PRICE: $370,000 to $1.4-millionAMENITIES: 1 or 2 restaurants, 100 public parking spaces, sixth-floor rooftop pool.Source: http://www.sptimes.com/2005/12/21/Northpinellas/Condos_off_to_a_smash.shtml
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