Coming Soon to St. Petersburg…

blogpicIt is not hard to see that this city is growing, rapidly. At almost every corner downtown there’s a new building popping up! Here’s some good news: The number of permits issued, permit revenue, & construction value have all increased from a year ago reflecting the feeling that many residents and visitors have – there’s a lot going on in St. Petersburg! To date in Fiscal Year 2016, there has been $3,234,025 in total revenue to the city. In comparison to this time last year, which saw $2,663,413 in total revenue, this is a 21.42% increase. That is good news for my boss and to the citizens of St. Petersburg! So what can you expect to see in the near future of our beautiful city?

Restaurants: It is nearly impossible to keep up with all of the new restaurants opening in this city. We saw 18 new restaurants open from February to June of 2015. And now, in Spring 2016, we are expecting 9 more new restaurants! And that doesn’t include the more than 30+ opening in the Tampa Bay Area. This city is a foodie paradise! Be on the look out for the following openings: Wooden Rooster, Central Melt, Urban Creamery, Bavaro’s Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria, Hawkers St. Pete, Pei Wei, Burger Monger, and Fresh Kitchen/Daily Eats. YUMMY!

Apartments/Condos: Everyone wants to live in St. Pete! With the influx of new citizens, the city is accommodating with new apartment buildings and condominiums! For example, Aspen Venture Group has begun pre-construction sales for 801 Conway, a 35-unit townhome project at 801 Burlington Ave. just west of Mirror Lake. Prices start in the high $200,000s for two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 1,330 to 2,463 square feet. Kolter Group, based in West Palm Beach, recently broke ground and began construction on “ONE St. Petersburg,” a 41-story condo tower in downtown. The tower will hold 253 units, making it the largest condo tower in St. Pete, so far.

Hotels: St. Petersburg has been on several national lists this year! It’s no wonder why so many people are vacationing in our city. So, to accommodate these tourists, new hotels are popping up all over the Tampa Bay Area. Treasure Island Beach Resort (Ocean Properties), the new 77-room hotel with its sweeping, unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico, a unique restaurant with a craft cocktail-inspired bar and one-bedroom and two-bedroom units that include kitchens. The new resort, which sits on a 1.5-acre lot, is the first new hotel development to open on Treasure Island in about a decade. Although this next one is technically not located in St. Petersburg, it is still a massive addition to our area. Opal Sands Resort recently opened in Clearwater Beach. The 25,000 sq. ft. hotel includes 230 guest rooms and suites, which are ALL oceanfront, with private balconies offering spectacular views of the Gulf.

So if you are planning your next vacation, or next city to live in, you might want to consider the beautiful and budding city of St. Petersburg, Fl!

A Plethora of Pre-Bid Meetings

Business PresentationLarry has been very busy! Several sets of drawings are scattered across the conference table, covered in red lines and notes. We have a healthy number of projects on the books at the moment, and I have been getting more and more involved in the process. This week we have two pre-bid meetings, and I am attending both! I like to be prepared, and since I have never been to or even heard of a pre-bid meeting, I headed straight to Google and started my research.

Pre-bid meetings are usually held during the bid/proposal preparation period. Typically an ad is placed in the newspaper to announce the meeting to local contractors. The purpose of a pre-bid meeting is to clarify any concerns bidders may have with the solicitation documents, scope of work and other details of the requirement. Pre-bid meetings are conducted by the client requesting the project, at an agreed upon venue. They prepare the agenda for the meeting, sometimes with help from the architect. Attendance is not always mandatory, but it is a good idea for prospective bidders to attend. Pre-bid meetings are held to interpret the technical and procurement aspects of the solicitation documents. This gives potential bidders a chance to voice their concerns. It is very important that the provided solicitation documents are clear, comprehensive, and non-restrictive. During a pre-bid meeting, these concerns are taken in consideration to help improve the solicitation documents. Pre-bid meetings are held with the hope to give bidders all the proper information needed to assist them with submitting a bid or proposal that responds to the requirements. Pre-bid meetings are typically held one week or more after the announcement of the invitation for bids or request for proposals. This allows prospective bidders to have plenty of time to prepare. They are able to read and study the solicitation documents, and produce a request for clarification, if they have one. The venue of the pre-bid meeting should be easily accessible to the target market.

I attended my first pre-bid meeting on Tuesday. I learned that government and school projects typically need at least three contractors in attendance to proceed. This particular meeting was for the City, and was not mandatory. A woman from the City office conducted the meeting, reading through the solicitation documents carefully. Once she finished reading, she answered questions from potential bidders. It was a quick, but informative meeting. At the conclusion, everyone walked out to the project site to take photos and get a better idea of the scope of work. My second pre-bid meeting is this afternoon. It is a mandatory meeting. Pretty soon, I will be a pro at these meetings!

5 Ways to “Go Green” in Architectural Design

recycleEarth Day is on April 22nd, so I thought I would get the “go green” awareness started a little early this month! With the amassing chatter around the world about global warming, we have seen a rising trend in doing things that are good for the environment, or, as we like to call it, “going green.” Even in the world of architecture, firms are beginning to specialize in sustainable construction or other environmentally friendly practices. Sometimes called “building green,” this type of construction utilizes responsible and efficient materials. These materials are better for the environment and, in many cases, are also better on the budget for people or organizations that construct them. Here are 5 ways that architects can incorporate “going green” into their design:

  1. Use of Sustainable Materials – Sustainable products are those products that provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting public health and environment over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal. Some examples of sustainable materials are bamboo, clay, adobe, hemp, recycled rubber, cork, straw, coconut palm, timber, and textiles. Many home improvement stores offer these types of materials for different projects. A great example is refurbished hardwood flooring! Cork is a great accent wall for a kitchen or office. It basically becomes a giant bulletin board where you can display photos or notes.
  2. Use of Biodegradable Materials – Biodegradable substances are capable of being broken down (decomposed) rapidly by the action of microorganisms. These include food scraps, cotton, wool, wood, human and animal waste, manufactured products based on natural materials (such as paper, and vegetable-oil based soaps). The most commonly used biodegradable material used in the construction field is insulation. Greensulate is a great example of this innovative material.
  3. Incorporating Natural Lighting – Homeowners spend big money to power the lights in their homes every day. Each time you turn on a light, kilowatts are being used in order to provide you with that light – and that means that the electric company is using valuable resources such as oil and gas. The best solution to this problem is to incorporate as much natural light as possible through windows and skylights.
  4. Purchasing “Energy Star” Appliances – ENERGY STAR is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency. In order to earn the label, ENERGY STAR products must be third party certified based on testing in EPA-recognized laboratories. In addition to up-front testing, a percentage of all ENERGY STAR products are subject to “off–the–shelf” verification testing each year. The goal of this testing is to ensure that changes or variations in the manufacturing process do not undermine a product’s qualification with ENERGY STAR requirements. Appliances range from refrigerators, dishwashers and washer/dryers to ceiling fans, light bulbs, and pool pumps.
  5. Creating an Outdoor Space – Finally, you want to incorporate outdoor space within the architectural design. You may want to have an open-air lobby, a large patio or deck in your backyard. Adding trees and other plants to your yard is one of the easiest ways to help the environment!