Make us your home page
Instagram

John's Pass redevelopment project at a crawl

TREASURE ISLAND — Plans for a $15 million redevelopment on the south side of John's Pass are big, but in nearly a year little has happened to make them real.

Sid Rice, spokesman for Rice Family Holdings, which owns the nearly 10-acre tract that brackets Gulf Boulevard on the northern tip of the city, confirmed Monday that the project is still active but negotiations with an investor are not yet final.

"We are still working on it. It takes time to finalize," Rice said.

Jack Bodziak, an architect who is working closely with the investor, Dr. Robert A. Baker, confirmed Baker and Rice resolved a legal dispute over money Baker already invested in the redevelopment.

A pending foreclosure action is one of the remaining issues holding up the project, he said.

"We started on designs for the hotel, but are waiting for the deal (between Rice and Baker) to be closed before going any farther," Bodziak said.

Last summer, Bodziak reported that several hotel groups were interested in building a major hotel on the site.

Rice and Bodziak said this week that efforts to secure a casino boat that would be docked at John's Pass are on hold pending resolution of the planned redevelopment.

Rice recently renewed his business license to operate a casino boat to maintain his ability to again offer offshore gambling out of John's Pass.

"We haven't secured a boat yet," Rice said.

Meanwhile, demolition of old and deteriorating buildings, including the old Kingfish restaurant, on the east side of Gulf Boulevard just off Sunshine Lane is complete and the site is clear for redevelopment.

Much of the area directly along the east side of Gulf Boulevard is slated to become a 500-space parking lot.

However, no demolition has started on the west side of Gulf Boulevard at the mouth of John's Pass, where a planned $1.5 million Rock House Grille and Cabanas are slated to be located.

Public discussions for redeveloping the Rice property on John's Pass started in March 2011. At that time, the complex was to include an amusement arcade and tourist attraction, as well as updated docks and marina.

Since then, the first floor of the nearly 20-year-old Gators Cafe & Saloon was completely renovated, including new flooring and a granite-topped bar.

A site plan and special exception for the Rock House part of the project was approved by the city's Planning Board in August 2011, but building permits have yet to be pulled.

Under city rules, work on the project must start within a year of site plan approval. If development slips past that date, an extension or new site plan approval would be required.

The site plan calls for a family-oriented beach restaurant and bar, a wading pool, water fountain and 17 cabanas for sunbathers on the beach.

The planning board tied its approval for the project to limiting hours of operation to ensure the restaurant would not become a late-night destination, banning outside music and requiring a traffic pattern to minimize intrusion into the nearby Sunshine Beach neighborhood.

In November, the project was put on hold pending resolution of a legal dispute between the Rice family and Baker.

The original contract called for the Rice property to be sold to Baker's company for $7.5 million, most of which would be used to assume several existing first mortgages. The Rice family would receive $2 million in cash and be granted a 25 percent ownership of the new development company.

Bodziak said once the sale closes, the partnership can move ahead in attracting a major hotel, extending and upgrading the boardwalk along the pass, creating new retail shops and recreational and tourist attractions and bringing a gambling boat back to John's Pass.

John's Pass redevelopment project at a crawl 02/07/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 5:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  2. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  3. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  4. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.
  5. Honda denies covering up dangers of Takata air bags

    Autos

    With just a third of the defective Takata air bag inflators replaced nationwide, the corporate blame game of who will take responsibility — and pay — for the issue has shifted into another gear.

    Honda is denying covering up dangers of Takata air bags. | [Scott McIntyre, New York Times]