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Developer Richard Kessler May Drop All Condos from its
 Grand Bohemian Hotel Project in St. Petersburg, Florida
By Steve Huettel, St. Petersburg Times, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 7, 2008 - Developers of the Grand Bohemian Hotel & Residences in downtown St. Petersburg may eliminate luxury condos from the plans and delay construction until spring.

Tighter lending restrictions for condo construction have "adversely affected" Grand Bohemian SP, LLC's ability to close on a construction loan for the 28-story project first unveiled in late 2004, a company executive wrote city officials last month.

City Council members are scheduled to vote today to allow developers to drop all 22 condos from the project and give them until April 30 to begin construction. The hotel, with 200 to 270 rooms, would be built on a half-block next to the new Progress Energy Florida headquarters.

The project has endured various redesigns since developer Richard Kessler signed a deal to buy the site from the city. Plans called for 82 luxury condos starting at $500,000, 166 hotel rooms, an art gallery, several restaurants and a music lounge.

When condo sales weakened in 2006, he cut the number of condos to 52 and, in December, to 22 and 292 hotel rooms.

Developers expected to start construction now and open in early 2010. The amendment council members vote on today moves back the start date by eight months and says the developer will "endeavor to complete construction" by Sept. 30, 2011.

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Copyright (c) 2008, St. Petersburg Times, Fla.

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