Saturday, January 20, 2018
Business

Developers propose razing Seminole Mall, building new shopping mecca

SEMINOLE — After almost 10 years of wishing, hoping and speculating, residents and business owners finally got a peek at Seminole Mall's possible future Tuesday night.

The North American Development Group and Primerica Group One presented a conceptual design that shows a transformation of the 39-plus-acre property. The indoor mall, which has stood there since 1965, will be razed. In its place would be a more modern design that has a 12-screen movie theater, a fitness center, retail stores, restaurants and a bank located mostly around the perimeter.

The goal of the design, said Richard Trzcinski, Primerica Group One president, is to create a "space that is special," that shoppers and others will see as a destination.

Primerica and the NADG are proposing a public-private partnership.

Trzcinski said the company is not asking for Seminole to contribute any tax money up front. Instead, he said, the company wants a tax rebate.

Under the proposal, the city would continue to receive the same property taxes it currently receives but would rebate any amount above that to the developers. It is unclear how many years the company would want the rebate.

The Pinellas County Property Appraiser values the mall site at about $13.6 million. It brings in about $267,800 in property taxes each year, according to the Pinellas County tax collector. The NADG estimates that, if approved, the project will mean an increase of about $32.5 million in taxable real property value, which will bring in $586,324 in additional property taxes each year.

The NADG further estimates the completed project will generate about $113.8 million in sales each year, for a total of about $6.4 million in sales taxes, using the current 7 percent rate.

At buildout, the NADG estimates the project will bring 755 permanent jobs to Seminole with annual salaries totaling about $20.7 million. An additional 629 temporary jobs will be created, the company estimates.

Seminole council member John Counts said he supports the proposal.

"I think this is a phenomenal project and I'm 100 percent behind it," Counts said.

Council member Chris Burke was more cautious, saying, "Before I trade the cow for the beans, I want to know how much the beans cost."

The proposed design shows a main entrance on 113th Street N opposite the southern entrance to the Publix shopping center across the street. That's long been a tricky spot for motorists, so the development group is proposing to place a traffic light there. That way, shoppers could easily go from the mall property to the grocery store and back again.

One focal point of the new design would face the intersection of Park and 113th. Passers-by would see a monument sign and fountains with the landscaped mall spread out behind.

The sign would carry the mall's new name: Seminole City Center.

The name is a nod to the mall's importance to the city. It was the location for the meeting at which it was decided to make Seminole a city. It was the center of activity for the growing town and became known as Seminole's downtown, a designation it still carries.

At its height, the original anchors, Kmart, Publix, Bealls, Stein Mart and Ross, did brisk business, as did smaller stores. But hard times hit and smaller stores closed. The larger stores and most anchors followed. Publix moved across the street to a former Albertsons. A bank holding company foreclosed on the mall's mortgage in 2011. Kmart closed in 2012. Ross closed early this year. Bealls and Stein Mart are still there, but not much else.

Seminole Mall LP, a Delaware limited partnership, bought the mall in 2012 for $14.6 million, about 59 percent less than the $35.7 million the previous owner, Downtown Seminole, paid in 2006. Seminole Mall LP is run out of the Palm Beach office of the NADG, a multinational corporation that specializes in the development, redevelopment and management of shopping centers.

Last year, Seminole Office LP bought the two office buildings at 7997 and 7999 113th St. N, on the northwest edge of the mall property, for about $1.98 million. Seminole Office LP is a Delaware corporation also run out of the NADG office. Both the mall property and the office building land are part of the proposed redevelopment plan.

The NADG has partnered with Primerica Group One and Primerica Developments, a Tampa company whose primary focus is on the development or redevelopment of shopping centers, in the proposed redevelopment.

The proposal shows spaces for 24 businesses ranging in size from about 2,000 square feet to the cinemas with 56,998 square feet and 1,262 seats. While no specific tenants are named, the plan shows space for two drive-though restaurants, five other restaurants, an office building and a retail/fitness center. The parking lot appears to be heavily landscaped with trees lining the drive aisles and the perimeter of the property.

Seminole council members will schedule a workshop to discuss details of the project and to decide whether to proceed.

Contact Anne Lindberg at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450. Follow @alindbergtimes.

 
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