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As prosals come in, Temple Terrace relinquishes original redevelopment vision

By Joyce McKenzie, Times Correspondent
CHARLIE KAIJO | Times Councilwoman Cheri Donohue speaks during a city council meeting at the Temple Terrace City Hall in Temple Terrace, Fla. on Tuesday, April 4, 2017.

TEMPLE TERRACE — In an ongoing effort to bring new life to an aging and largely unoccupied shopping plaza southeast of the N 56th Street/Bullard Parkway intersection, four firms presented plans at a Nov. 1 meeting of the Temple Terrace Redevelopment Agency at the Omar K. Lightfoot Recreation Center.

The city, forced to take out a $23.5 million loan after yet another failed effort, must either pay off or refinance the debt by April 2018. Many on the council are eager to move forward, but Council member Frank Chillura said the proposals clearly indicated Temple Terrace will fall short of its original vision.

"I think the problem the city faces is that we want the pie in the sky," he said. "I think we all want the same end result, but we have to look at what is the best fit for Temple Terrace and we’ve got to get this on the road — we’ve got to make this happen."

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David Owen, Jr. the principal OF Suncoast Retail Developers, in partnership with Tom Flournoy of Flournoy Development, a residential developer, outlined a joint proposal to purchase the entire 12.26 acres for $7.7 million and build two-, three- and four-story apartment complexes on the south end of the property and another along the eastern edge, close to Bullard Parkway. The three buildings would contain a total of 263 units.

"Our business was started by my brother in 1967 and we’ve built more than 200 apartment complexes," Flournoy said, noting that their company, headquartered in Columbus, Ga., does not retain ownership of their developments after completion.

Suncoast, which as the name implies is in the business of developing retail properties, also proposed building a bank and two strip-style retail structures close to North 56th Street that would include space for a sit-down restaurant.

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Ely Banks, vice president of development for the Richman Group — based in West Palm Beach and marketed as the 7th largest owner of apartment building in the United States — initially proposed purchasing 9 acres for $4 million on which it would build 200 three- to four-story garden-style apartments in two complexes along the property’s eastern boundary and another abutting North 56th Street at the southern end of the plot.

However, during last week’s meeting, he announced his plan to re-submit the proposal to include purchasing the full 12.26 acres and will formally announce details of the new proposal at the Nov. 7 Temple Terrace City Council meeting.

• • •

Jared Moon, founder and president of Paragon Property Development Group, a real estate investment and development firm, presented his proposal to purchase 2.85 acres on the northeastern edge of the property for $3.58 million.

His plan is to erect four separate buildings, one abutting Bullard Parkway to house a bank, and three along the edge of North 56th Street. He envisions one as a space for another financial institution, and the two others structures would include a 10,000 square-foot restaurant and perhaps a medical facility and/or a coffee house.

"Part of my design incorporates Mediterranean mainly one-story styling and my difference from others are features like a tower, a fountain and an archway," Moon said. "Also, my buildings are very adaptable to what is wanted."

• • •

The Wagner Property Group proposed buying 2.6 acres for $3.5 million with the intention of building a retail development at the corner of Bullard Parkway and North 56th Street. It would include a bank, a coffee house and another pad for an additional business.

However, Wagner’s vice president of real estate, Burton Tuttle, who submitted the offer, was not present to explain the specifics of the project.

• • •

Several residents expressed doubts about the feasibility of apartments on the site and leaned toward the retail-heavy Paragon proposal.

"If you build all those apartments are you sure you are going to get people in those buildings?" resident Gary Martin asked. "I think the commercial proposal is what most people are looking for."

Council member Cheri Donohue also expressed her view on the issue.

"I hope this meeting lays to rest that we are just looking for the highest bidder. We are not," she said. "But what we thought we wanted we can’t have."

Contact Joyce McKenzie at [email protected]