Sunday, October 14, 2018
Business

Downtown St. Petersburg church agrees to sell its parking lot for $5.6 million

ST. PETERSBURG — A downtown congregation has agreed to sell a portion of its prime property to a Connecticut developer.

Christ United Methodist Church said it has signed a contract to sell its parking lot at First Avenue N and Fifth Street to Miles River Development for $5.65 million.

The developer could not be reached for comment, but church leaders say they believe there are plans to build a mixed-use tower on the little more than half-acre lot.

In an area zoned for mixed-use, the property is in the city’s downtown core district, which allows the highest densities and building height. Elizabeth Abernethy, the city’s zoning official, said there is no height restriction, but buildings more than 158 feet above mean sea level require an airport obstruction permit to verify that there are no airspace safety hazards. Buildings more than 375 feet high require a public hearing, she said.

For Christ Church, the contract provides a major thrust to the Rev. Jacqueline Jones-Smith’s plans to shore up the historic downtown congregation’s finances and expand its ministries.

"The signing of this purchase agreement is a milestone event. It represents over 15 months of intense effort by our business development group and all of us working together," she said, referring to the required congregational vote and assent of its overseeing bodies of the United Methodist Gulf Central District and Florida Annual Conference.

Jon Wittner, managing director for KW Commercial Tampa Bay, which had the listing in the booming downtown market, said late last year that nearby properties were selling for $6 million to $9 million an acre.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Christ United Methodist selling its parking lot in hot downtown St. Petersburg market

Alan DeLisle, the city’s development administrator, said the agreement to buy the 0.65-acre parking lot near City Hall is another testament to the strength of St. Petersburg’s economy.

"It’s saying that the market is very appealing to development and development is driven by the demand for office space, more retail space and more residential space,’’ DeLisle said. "We had a very good year last year with our job creation numbers. We had 3,000 net new jobs in St. Petersburg between 2016 and 2017. That was one of the best job creation numbers St. Petersburg has had in recent years."

"We are seeing an unprecedented demand for office space and developers are beginning to respond to that. And the church site is a great site, right in the middle of everything."

Jones-Smith, a former lawyer and chairman and commissioner of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, was hired in July 2016 to revive the struggling church and has been focused on tapping into that potential.

She established a "2020" plan for the church and created a business development group that includes Bob Stewart, a former Pinellas County commissioner and St. Petersburg City Council member. The group spearheaded the sale of property, part of which the congregation had once talked of turning into an urban garden.

"This is an out-of-the-box move for an older downtown church to take," Stewart said. "I think maybe it was a bold move, but I think it is going to pay great dividends for downtown and the growth of the church."

The sale comes with other benefits, Jones-Smith said.

"Not only do we get revenue from this, we will get sufficient parking, which is critical to a downtown church," she said. "We will have parking for our Sunday services and also parking during the week. It is critical to growth and sustaining the ministry."

The church will get 150 parking spaces on Sundays and 30 Monday through Saturday in perpetuity, Jones-Smith said.

The real estate deal will also allow Christ Church to create new ministries and expand and restore old ones such as its laundry ministry, which offers quarters, prayers and other assistance at coin laundries. Jones-Smith also plans to restart the church’s after-school arts program called JAM, or Jesus, the Arts and Me.

The church also will now have money to revamp its large campus and lease some of its space, said the pastor’s husband, Joshua I. Smith, who served on such boards as FedEx, Caterpillar, Allstate Insurance and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and chairs the church’s business development group.

The sale will not be complete for about 90 days, pending due diligence by the buyer.

"Once that happens," Smith said, "we can be more focused on growing the church and really be a stakeholder in the business community in St. Petersburg."

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.

Comments
Sears files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid plunging sales, massive debt

Sears files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid plunging sales, massive debt

NEW YORK — Sears has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, buckling under its massive debt load and staggering losses. Sears once dominated the American retail landscape. But the big question is whether the shrunken version of itself can be via...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Times 2019 Medicare Guide

The Times 2019 Medicare Guide

It has four main parts, labeled A, B, C and D. But after that, the rules can be wickedly complex. Nearly 60 million people are using it right now. And with an estimated 10,000 people reaching age 65 each day in the U.S., that number is growing fast.S...
Published: 10/15/18
Medicare opens enrollment for 2019 with insurers focused on keeping you out of the hospital

Medicare opens enrollment for 2019 with insurers focused on keeping you out of the hospital

The annual Medicare open enrollment period kicks off today, and the news is generally good for nearly 4.4 million Floridians who rely on the program. Premiums are expected to stay roughly the same in 2019, and many plans are offering expanded perks a...
Published: 10/15/18
Dear Penny: My fiance spends his student loan refund like it doesn’t cost interest

Dear Penny: My fiance spends his student loan refund like it doesn’t cost interest

Dear Penny,I’ve been working full time for five years and have slowly learned to budget as I’ve clawed my way through student loans and credit card debt, which I’m still not out of. This year, I am also saving for my wedding. After that, I want to st...
Published: 10/15/18
Sun Dome no more: After years of struggle, can the new Yuengling Center find a soul?

Sun Dome no more: After years of struggle, can the new Yuengling Center find a soul?

TAMPA — Kelli Yeloushan slid the latest issue of VenuesNow magazine across her desk."We actually have a full-page ad that just came out today," she said.There on Page 55 of the concert industry trade mag was Yeloushan, director of events management a...
Published: 10/12/18
Updated: 10/13/18
Report: Insured damages for Hurricane Michael pegged at $3B to $5B

Report: Insured damages for Hurricane Michael pegged at $3B to $5B

CoreLogic projects that Hurricane Michael’s wind and storm surge caused between $3 billion and $5 billion in insured losses across all states the storm passed through. Of that, Florida is expected to account for $2.5 billion to 4 billion. "At this ti...
Published: 10/12/18
Nurses at HCA hospitals reach contract agreement

Nurses at HCA hospitals reach contract agreement

Registered nurses from 15 hospitals in Florida owned by the national chain, Hospital Corporation of America, have reached tentative agreements on union contract negotiations. Nurses across Florida and several other states have been picketing, and rec...
Published: 10/12/18
Roughly 350,000 still without power in Panhandle Friday morning

Roughly 350,000 still without power in Panhandle Friday morning

Roughly 343,700 Floridians were still without power as of noon Friday according to Gov. Rick Scott as utility crews worked to restore electricity after Hurricane Michael. While areas further east, such as Monticello, were already getting power back, ...
Published: 10/12/18
What Red Tide? New Florida tourism campaigns promote museums, craft beer and local experiences

What Red Tide? New Florida tourism campaigns promote museums, craft beer and local experiences

Visit Florida’s latest ad campaign doesn’t feature sprawling beach scenes with toes in the sand. Instead, look for craft beers, restaurants, museums and murals — a move designed to hook millennial travelers seeking to experience cities "like a local....
Published: 10/12/18
Facebook says hackers accessed 29M people's accounts

Facebook says hackers accessed 29M people's accounts

Facebook revealed that personal information for millions of users has been stolen by hackers.
Published: 10/12/18