Sunday, June 17, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tarpon Springs commissioners to vote on future of troubled motel

Tarpon Springs commissioners will vote again tonight on the fate of a motel city officials have long labeled a nuisance.

Commissioners will decide whether to buy the troubled Sunbay Motel for $895,000 plus $55,000 of attorney's fees, paving the way for potential redevelopment on the land just steps from Spring Bayou. That's $15,000 less than the purchase price commissioners rejected by a narrow margin in October in part because it was too expensive.

The 12-room motel at 57 W Tarpon Ave., along with an inn across the street and a nearby apartment complex, have long been police and code enforcement hotspots. City officials began discussions to buy Sunbay under pressure from the public soon after a fatal shooting there in August 2016.

Working with motel owner Peter Fanoudis' initial offer of about $1.5 million and a city-ordered appraisal of $690,000, the two parties eventually landed on a purchase price of $910,000 plus attorney's fees through an intensive mediation process.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to reject that proposal and directed staff to go back to the drawing board, with commissioners Jacob Karr and David Banther dissenting.

Anthony Policastro, the lawyer representing Fanoudis, wrote in a letter to the city that his client was disappointed commissioners turned down the first proposal but that "in the spirit of cooperation" he was willing to lower the amount to $895,000.

Leading up to the meeting Tuesday, both Karr and Banther told the Tampa Bay Times they still support purchasing the property. The money would come from the Community Redevelopment Area fund, which is devoted to revitalizing downtown, and a loan from another city fund that would be paid back over four years, Karr said.

"I can think of no better use to eliminate blight than a motel that is full of various sorts of crime that is tarnishing the west end of Tarpon Avenue," Banther said.

Commissioner Susan Miccio-Kikta said she was leaning toward rejecting the deal as she did in October but wanted to hear from residents at tonight's meeting.

"I'm going to reward a poor neighbor and buy his business for his poor behavior in our community?" she said. "I just don't see why we would do that."

Mayor Chris Alahouzos said he was undecided. Commissioner Rea Sieber could not immediately be reached for comment.

The meeting is 6:30 p.m. today at Tarpon Springs City Hall, 324 E Pine St.

Comments
Democrat who hopes to challenge Gus Bilirakis put on New Democrat Coalition Watch List

Democrat who hopes to challenge Gus Bilirakis put on New Democrat Coalition Watch List

A major Democratic group just put one of Gus Bilirakis' potential challengers on its list of candidates to watch.The New Democrat Coalition, 68 congressional Democrats who emphasize economic issues and "finding pragmatic solutions to policy challenge...
Published: 06/15/18
Updated: 06/16/18
Valdes fires back, and draws a blistering response from Alvarez

Valdes fires back, and draws a blistering response from Alvarez

[SEE UPDATE AT THE END FOR FIGHTING WORDS FROM ALVAREZ]Victor DiMaio on Thursday released this announcement on behalf of Florida State House hopeful and Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes:"Susan Valdes hoped the race between Democra...
Published: 06/14/18
Tampa City Council hears cautious optimism in Buckhorn’s modest last budget

Tampa City Council hears cautious optimism in Buckhorn’s modest last budget

Tampa City Council members reacted to Mayor Bob Buckhorn's cautious last budget Thursday with their own hedge, saying the city's economic forecast could change on a dime if the national and regional economy goes south in the next few months.Buckhorn ...
Published: 06/14/18
Hillsborough School Board member Susan Valdes’ resignation letter raises objections

Hillsborough School Board member Susan Valdes’ resignation letter raises objections

Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes, who is running for the Florida House District 62 seat, sent in her legally required resignation letter hours before last Friday's deadline. On Monday, Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer announ...
Published: 06/13/18
Jane Castor takes early fundraising lead in Tampa mayor’s race

Jane Castor takes early fundraising lead in Tampa mayor’s race

Election Day is still more than eight months away, but former police chief Jane Castor, who dominated the field in a recent local poll, is also breaking ahead in the money race.And Castor has much more money remaining in the bank than her opponents f...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18
What quorum? Pat Kemp left TBARTA meeting, scuttling planned vote

What quorum? Pat Kemp left TBARTA meeting, scuttling planned vote

TAMPA — The regional transit authority will schedule an emergency board meeting after a member, Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, said she fell ill and abruptly left Friday’s meeting.The problem with that is Kemp’s sudden&#...
Published: 06/12/18
Executive director of TBARTA runs for Hillsborough County Commission

Executive director of TBARTA runs for Hillsborough County Commission

TAMPA – Ray Chiaramonte, the executive director of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority, has entered the race for the Hillsborough County Commission District 7 seat.Chiaramonte filed papers Monday with the Hillsborough County Superviso...
Published: 06/11/18
Murman decision to withdraw from District 7 race shakes up county commission race

Murman decision to withdraw from District 7 race shakes up county commission race

TAMPA — In the year since County Commission Chairwoman Sandy Murman filed to switch to commission District 7, she raised more than $180,000 to fund a race for the countywide seat.But in a surprise move Friday, Murman let a deadline pass without...
Published: 06/08/18
Harry Cohen’s message to Tampa: ‘You know me’

Harry Cohen’s message to Tampa: ‘You know me’

TAMPA — Harry Cohen stood before several hundred people at the Tampa Museum of Art on Wednesday evening with a simple message: He's a proven quantity that residents can rely on to take the city to the next level — and do it fairly.Co...
Published: 06/06/18
Updated: 06/07/18
Ed Narain is still making up his mind about a run for Tampa mayor

Ed Narain is still making up his mind about a run for Tampa mayor

People ask Ed Narain all the time if he's going to run for mayor of Tampa.Narain admitted as much after being contacted Tuesday by the Tampa Bay Times about a flurry of rumors that he was about to jump in the race.“A lot of people...
Published: 06/05/18