The EDGE District is the busy mixed-use corridor bracketed by the 1st Avenues between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and 16th Streets. It’s a booming area with many local businesses and still retains a Main Street feel. The building at 900 Central is the area's oldest (1918) and one of the EDGE District's most important historic buildings as it played a pivotal role in the city's westward moving development.
When developed on the southwest corner of 9th St. and Central Ave. in 1918 it was the Western Hotel (renamed the St. Petersburg Hotel in 1920). The three-story brick building (pictured in 1942) featured bands of corbelling (bracketing) and masonry windowsills. The hotel was the first of several to open west of 9th Street and they collectively offered more modest accommodations in contrast to the large, luxury, high style downtown hotels. The building served as an anchor at a key corner during a time of rapid westward growth. Besides its hotel use, 900 Central was also home to a Post Office sub-station and drug store, as well as a variety of other businesses, including grocers, lenders, realty, insurance and clothing. Presently, it's home to Anytime Fitness.
Although the storefront windows and door were altered on the first story in 2008, the building retains its brick exterior and historic detailing. A 2016 historic survey determined that 900 Central was in “excellent” condition as an overall historic resource and that it appeared to meet the criteria for National Register listing as the building retains much of its integrity of original historic design, fabric & use.
1915: Central Ave. is extended west of 9th Street.
1918: The Western Hotel building is constructed at 900 Central Ave., at the southwest corner of Central Ave. & 9th Street. The hotel was renamed the St. Petersburg Hotel in 1920.
1926: Across from the hotel, on the northeast corner of Central Ave. & 9th St., the 9th St. Bank and Trust Co. (to become First Union Bank) is built. It is renovated as part of the ICON Central Apartment development in 2019.
2008: 900 Central undergoes renovation
2011: Central Ave., between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. St. and 16th St. is renamed the EDGE District. The Edge Business District Association pushes forward with plans to promote & renovate the area.
2016: A historic resource survey of the EDGE District is completed, identifying 900 Central as the District's oldest and one of its most significant buildings.
2019: 900 Central is purchased by an entity controlled by St. Petersburg resident Dr. Anthony Aboud.
2020: A development application for 900 Central is submitted, calling for demolition of the historic building. After talks with the developer fail to result in a compromise to include the building's reuse in development plans, the Edge Business District Association submits a local landmark application for 900 Central.
In August 2020, a development application for a 12 story, mixed-use (primarily residential/apartment) development was submitted to the city. The development proposal calls for the demolition of 900 Central Ave. The development site extends beyond the historic building, encompassing an area in excess of 3/4 of an acre, potentially allowing for redevelopment options including the historic building's reuse. Because of the proposed development's adverse historic resource impact, a public hearing before the city's Development Review Commission will be required.
Designating 900 Central Ave. as a local landmark will encourage its reuse with both a carrot (tax incentives and code flexibility) and a stick (demolition and design review and public hearings). Reusing the historic building will help keep Central Avenue and the EDGE District's Main Street feel and sense of place—characteristics important to the District's ongoing economic success. The renovation of the historic Union Trust Bank building as part of the ICON Central Apartments serves as an example of how new development can successfully include historic building reuse.
We are working with the Edge Business District Association to raise awareness about the importance of 900 Central Ave. to the city's history and development. We also are supporting efforts to have the building designated as a local landmark.