ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Despite strong opposition from many residents who live near the Coquina Key Plaza, the St. Pete City Council voted 6-1 to approve an agreement with a developer and its rezoning request to transform the site into retail and apartments.

“It seems that this is a city the developers are in control of,” said Walter Border, president of the Bahama Shores Neighborhood Association.

Since the Save-A-Lot Food Store closed in the Coquina Key Plaza, many residents say their south St. Pete neighborhood is now a food desert.

“We’ve got an area with almost three miles with no grocery either way,” Andrew Fivecoat said.

Borden lives less than a mile from the deserted strip mall.

“For me, I have car,” he said. “I drive to Publix and it’s not a problem, but there a lot of people in the neighborhood who are elderly who don’t have adequate transportation.”

Despite pushback from Borden and several speakers during a second public hearing Thursday evening, the city council approved Stoneweg US LLC’s plan for a mixed-use space with retail and up to 465 apartments.

Twenty percent of the units will be designated for affordable workforce housing.          

“Something that’s been hard for the city to get developers to do in our partnerships and they’re doing it on their own,” City Council Chair Gina Driscoll said before the vote.

Residents wanted the council to reject the developer’s plan because they say it doesn’t leave enough space for a major supermarket.

The developer’s attorney said they recently received a letter of intent from a grocery retailer.

“We’re working toward and iterating those terms to get to the endpoint to sign a lease,” Craig Taraszki said, “but we’re very confident that we can make it happen with either this tenant or another one.”

But the residents who feel the city council didn’t digest the information they presented said they’re not sold the developer will have a solution for their neighborhood’s needs.

“Five thousand square feet is not a major grocery store,” Borden said. “It’s certainly not a grocery store with a pharmacy.”

Taraszki said he could not reveal which grocery retailer submitted the letter of intent because of a confidentiality agreement.

Next up, the developer will apply for building permits and construction at the Coquina Key Plaza could begin in late spring or summer.