Ground broke Monday on the tallest residential building on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and the tallest structure in the city of St. Petersburg.
New York billionaire and Red Apple Group CEO and Chairman John Catsimatidis purchased the 2.3 acre property at 400 Central Ave. several years ago to develop a 49-story, 301-unit luxury condominium tower in downtown St. Petersburg. The foundation will be put in next month, and the building is on schedule to be complete in two years.
Groundbreaking of St. Petersburg development today! pic.twitter.com/7TeqjDuYlQ
— John Catsimatidis Jr (@johncatsjr) October 18, 2021
“I want to build something that I’m proud of, that my family will be proud of, that my kids are going to be proud of,” Catsimatidis said. “I’m building it, so I want it to be beautiful and iconic.”
The $400 million mixed-use development will also include 45,000 square feet of office space, 60,000 square feet of retail space and residential and non-residential parking.
“It’s going to have an observation deck so you can go all the way up on the 47th or 48th floor and look at the stars, look at the moon and fall in love again,” Catsimatidis said.
Catsimatidis attended the groundbreaking on Oct. 18 along with Bernardo Fort-Brescia, the development’s architect of record; Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis; St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman; and family members including son, John Catsimatidis Jr, daughter Andrea Catsimatidis (who is also the head of the Manhattan Republican Party) and wife Margo Catsimatidis.
“It went phenomenal,” Catsimatidis said.
Catsimatidis said the building’s progress is on schedule, and, now that people have adjusted to life amid the pandemic, he expects the project to move quickly.
There is already an interest in the condos from New Yorkers who want a change in life, Catsimatidis said. St. Petersburg feels safer, and the weather is sunny for most of the year, he said.
Catsimatidis is buying a penthouse in the building because he has family ties in St. Petersburg and wants to continue to work in the community.
“My wife’s father and mother urged me to make an investment in St. Pete, and since they passed away we’re going to put up a statue or a plaque in their honor, in their memory,” Catsimatidis said.
Red Apple Group is looking for more development space in Florida, he added.
Catsimatidis founded Red Apple Group in 1971 after opening a second grocery store on 87th street just west of Broadway. He named the store Red Apple.
Catsimatidis was born on the Greek Island of Nisyros. When he was six months old, his parents emigrated to New York City. They settled on 135th Street in Harlem. He attended New York University while working in a small grocery store at night and on weekends. With just 8 credits remaining, Catsimatidis dropped out of NYU to work in the grocery business full-time. By his 25th birthday he had opened 10 Red Apple Supermarkets scattered along Broadway on Manhattan’s Upper Westside.
Now Red Apple Group, is a diversified corporation that owns and operates assets in the energy, aviation, retail, real estate, finance, insurance and supermarket industries, as well as WABC-AM radio.