|By Drew Harwell, Tampa Bay Times, St.
Petersburg, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 20, 2012--ST. PETERSBURG -- Crews are pouring the foundation for the city's newest hotel, a five-floor Staybridge Suites near Bayfront Medical Center and Tropicana Field.
The 120-room hotel, at 940 Fifth Ave. S, will cost $14 million and open late next year, according to hotel development firm Menna Development & Management.
The rooms will be designed as "extended stay" -- more apartment than hotel -- ranging from studios to two-bedroom suites, with full kitchens and living rooms.
The hotel will target visitors to Bayfront Medical Center and All Children's Hospital, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and the stadium, said firm CEO Anthony Menna.
Menna, whose firm has sold Residence Inn hotels in Lutz and Oldsmar and still owns a Marriott in the Carillon Office Park, bought the 4 acres in 2008, hoping to open the urban-styled hotel by early last year.
But as the market for corporate and leisure travel slowed during the recession, banks balked at extending a construction loan. Neighbored by Campbell Park and Interstate 175, the land languished as overflow parking for Tropicana Field.
Developers closed on a loan late last month and quickly set crews to work, said firm director of development Aminie Mohip. Menna will invest $4 million of his own money to seal the deal.
The hotel would employ about 50 people in reception, food service and housekeeping, Mohip said. Studios, she estimated, would cost about $110 a night.
The hotel could find a solid source of revenue from visiting residents of the nearby medical centers, including All Children's, which this week announced it would host pediatricians from Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine starting in 2014.
As for the baseball stadium, developers shrug off the aging field's uncertain future. Menna said it might even be better if the Tropicana fell out of favor, as then they could open their rooms to those working in demolition.
Owned by InterContinental Hotels Group, the parent of Holiday Inn, the Staybridge chain brands 184 hotels, with another 77 on the way, according to corporate reports.
According to the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Staybridge would be the newest hotel in the downtown area since 2003, when the four-story Hampton Inn & Suites opened on Beach Drive at a cost of $8 million.
Further north on Beach Drive, the Grayl's Hotel, first built in 1922, is undergoing remodeling. Developer Chuck Prather plans to reopen it in December as the Birchwood Inn.
Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 893-8252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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