Sunday, February 18, 2018
Business

Developers want Pinellas taxpayers to pitch in millions for Seminole Mall makeover

SEMINOLE — Mall developers say they want taxpayers to foot the bill for about $7.6 million in "public benefit enhancements" that would be part of a revamped Seminole Mall.

Those enhancements would include off-site road improvements; permits and fees; architectural, legal, accounting and engineering "soft" costs; loan fees; interest expense; and documentary stamps, according to a budget list submitted to Seminole city staff members.

Also included: a traffic signal on 113th Street N, the widening of that street and modifications to the driveway of the Publix across from the mall. The proposed mall redesign calls for the main entrance to be directly across from the southernmost Publix entrance so shoppers could easily go from one to the other. A signal would help traffic flow.

Other enhancements on the budget list: decorative lights, bollards and concrete, pavers, a gazebo, pergola, trellis walkway, fountains, accent trees, paint, stucco, lettering, statues and lampposts with hanging planters.

"It's kind of the community element of the project," said Richard Trzcinski, president of Primerica Group One. "It's kind of a quality of life standard where you're actually investing in the community. … (And) it's an ongoing economic impact that's a benefit" to the community.

These are enhancements, he said, that will affect the quality of the shopping and recreational experience at the new mall and, in the long run, improve the quality of life for Seminole and the area around it.

The entire project is budgeted at more than $80 million, he said. A formal proposal for reimbursement of the $7.6 million has not been submitted.

Primerica Group One and Primerica Developments, a Tampa company that focuses on the development or redevelopment of shopping centers, have partnered with the North American Development Group to redevelop the mall. NADG, a multinational corporation specializing in the development, redevelopment and management of shopping centers, bought the 39-acre mall in 2012 under the name Seminole Mall LP for about $14.6 million. Last year, NADG also bought the two office buildings bordering the northwest edge of the mall property at 7997 and 7999 113th St. N under the name Seminole Office LP for about $1.98 million.

Both the mall and the office properties are part of a proposed redevelopment that would see the land at the northeast corner of Park Boulevard and 113th turned into a destination shopping and recreation mecca with a 12-screen movie theater, a fitness center, restaurants, stores and a stage for entertainment. It would be called Seminole City Center.

"We (have) enhancements for the creation of community space," Trzcinski said. "There's streams. There's walking paths. … There's place for sculpture."

Seminole council members have said they support the general concept and have authorized staffers to negotiate design details with the developers. City Manager Frank Edmunds said his staff is studying the list and will likely provide an initial reaction in several weeks. Council members will be asked to consider it when a detailed, formal proposal is submitted.

That's okay with Trzcinski, who says his company has hired analysts who will be able to show the benefit to the community of the type of redevelopment that's being proposed.

Trzcinski said Primerica also plans to approach Pinellas County and perhaps the state for taxpayer help.

The county, he said, would have an interest because of proposed improvements to roads in the area.

In the case of Seminole, Trzcinski has suggested a tax rebate as one possible source of reimbursement.

"We're not asking for money up front," he said.

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

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