PETERSBURG, FL – Billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis, owner, president and CEO of Red Apple Group, said of the plan to construct a 50-story tower in St. Petersburg, “I’m going to be personally invested in it, and I want everybody in St. Pete to be proud of it,” the Tampa Bay Times (TBT) reported.
“Don’t forget: We have the cash,” Catsimatidis, 70, added. “We don’t need other people’s funding. We’re capable of writing a check.”
Red Apple Group purchased the 2.3-acre site in 2017 for $16.5 million, the TBT reported, adding that the plans for 325 condos and 200 hotel rooms were unveiled in a New York Times advertisement on January 17.
Catsimatidis said the plans are about “95 percent solid,” TBT reported.
According to Forbes, Catsimatidis’ net worth is $3.1 billion, allowing him a great measure of freedom as a real estate developer.
Other developers would have to “presell around 60 percent of the units to secure construction financing and break ground” on the downtown St. Petersburg project, “the most pioneering stand-alone project proposed in the Tampa Bay region” with construction costs estimated at about $250 million, TBT reported.
Catsimatidis told TBT that “the units will likely be priced from $1 million.”
He told the Tampa Bay Business Journal, “I’m building it to be able to proud of it, and if I’m not proud, I’m not doing it. I’m going to be personally invested in it, and I want everybody in St. Pete to be proud of it.”
A general contractor has not been chosen to date, and files have not yet been filed formally with the city, but Miami-based Arquitectonica is the project’s architect.
Catsimatidis began in the supermarket business, perhaps best known for the New York City chain Gristedes. His work in real estate development accounts for 15-20 percent of his business, according to the New York Times, TBT reported.
At the EMBCA’s fall panel discussion which was in honor and memory of renowned architect Costas Kondylis, Catsimatidis said, “the buildings built by creators and visionaries, you look at it and you say ‘Wow, I want to live there,’ and those are the kind of buildings I want to create and build. We built one like that on Myrtle and Flatbush Avenues [in Brooklyn] and it’s beautiful and I’m proud of it.”
At a previous panel discussion, he spoke about his Coney Island towers project, built on the waterfront in Brooklyn, noting that he argued with his people over balconies for each unit. Catsimatidis said, “You can’t live on the ocean without a balcony,” adding that he builds buildings that he would want to live in. At that time, he pointed out that the St. Petersburg/Tampa area of Florida is a “hot, growing area,” for development.
“He’s been visiting St. Pete for more than 30 years,” TBT reported, adding that Catsimatidis “thinks the city will continue to evolve,” with hundreds of people willing to spend the requisite amount of money to move into the new tower.
“I’m willing to write my own checks, and I believe we’re going to do well. Maybe I won’t make a lot of money, but we’re not gonna lose money. I think people from the Midwest and high tax states are going to continue coming on down,” Catsimatides said, TBT reported.