Housing complex to replace tower with complex history

Situated on the corner of 42nd Street and Fletcher Avenue, the residential student building across the street from campus will be demolished so a new student housing complex can be built after a tumultuous history of ownership.

The building, formerly known as Fontana Hall, The Edge and what would have been Sky Tower Suites, was sold in spring to Edwards Communities Development Corp., an Ohio-based developer, for $5.5 million from Landmark, the former owners who purchased the property in Aug. 2011 for $2.75 million.

Edwards Communities began gutting out the building at the beginning of September and plans to erect a new, two-building student complex with 539 bedrooms. The apartments will range from studios to four bedroom apartments. It is expected to open to students in fall 2013.

Paul Guyet, senior investment advisor for Smith Equities Real Estate Investment Advisors, who negotiated the sale from Landmark to Edwards, said the developer decided to demolish the old building because it was outdated.

The rooms were too small, he said. The kids all wanted to rent one room for themselves. They didnt want to share rooms.

The original 13-story building was built in 1968 and was set up to house two college students per bedroom. From 2003-2004, USF Housing rented four floors of the building, then known as Fontana Hall, where overflow students were sent. When the property was sold to Landmark, USF settled on an affiliation agreement to house overflow students in, but the building never opened to students.

But the building, which is in the process of having its insides cleared from asbestos, air-conditioning dismantled, and cell-phone towers removed, could not come up or down without conflict.

Shortly after the transaction of the property, Sterling University Housing, the developer for the nearby Sterling North Campus student housing campus which opened to students in August, filed two lawsuits against Edwards stating that Edwards should build less then 539 bedrooms.

Steve Simonetti, vice president for land and acquisition at Edwards Communities, said the company had a special-use permit to build up to 1,300 bedrooms on the property.

Local courts eventually ruled in Edwards favor of building its own residential student complex.

Yet, as a consequence of the lawsuits is that Edwards had to wait almost a year before it could begin construction because Hillsborough County did not issue the building permit until the lawsuits were resolved.

Each apartment in the new complex will have its own kitchen, washer and dryer, and each bedroom will have its own bathroom. The complex will be equipped with a pool, clubhouse, game and theater room, fitness center and parking garage under the buildings.