Make us your home page
Instagram

Clearwater plans to sue previous developer over Prospect Lake title

A rendering shows what the Prospect Lake development will look like, with ground floor retail and three floors of residences facing Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater.

JIM DAMASKE | Times\uFEFF

A rendering shows what the Prospect Lake development will look like, with ground floor retail and three floors of residences facing Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater.

CLEARWATER — There's just one thing blocking city officials and a new developer from giving downtown's Prospect Lake a long overdue facelift: the previous developer.

Although Bruce Balk never followed through with his plan to build apartments and shops on the land, he's refusing to sign a termination agreement that would allow Atlanta-based Miles Development Partners to continue the project, said City Attorney Pam Akin.

Now city officials say they're forced to sue.

"We just want a clear title and to eliminate any potential claim to those properties, although we don't think he has any," Akin said.

She said Balk "just won't talk to us about it and he won't (sign) it."

Balk, of Sarasota, didn't return a call from the St. Petersburg Times for this story.

The City Council is expected on Monday to give city attorneys permission to sue Balk in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court in the next few weeks. If Balk doesn't appear in court, "the title will be cleared by default," Akin said.

"He needs to be sued," said council member Paul Gibson. "The problem is, he's so hard to find."

Developers typically don't move forward on projects until the land is free and clear so they don't have to worry about the issue of ownership. The Prospect Lake project is not in jeopardy right now because Miles is about a year away from beginning work.

The suit will cost the city about $355 to file and process.

"It's one of those things … where it would be nice if we didn't have to do it, but given the circumstances this won't be done voluntarily," said Vice Mayor John Doran.

The initial plan to build Mediterranean Village first surfaced in 1999. A few years later, the city struck a deal with Balk to build 100 townhomes on the old Dimmitt Chevrolet property. Under that plan, Balk would pay the city about $1.3-million for the land.

After a number of setbacks, he pulled out early last year after completing only a 15-townhome community on nearby land.

He never started work on the 4 acres he was supposed to buy from the city across the street on S Prospect Avenue, which surrounds the land's pond, Prospect Lake.

The city last year terminated Balk's contract, then in the fall selected Miles to build up to 249 rental units — 10 percent of which will be affordable housing — and 16,000 square feet of shops that will front Cleveland Street. The $44.5-million project will also include a parking garage, fitness center and pool.

Jason Perry, vice president of development for Miles, said he wasn't concerned about any possibly delays, adding that the builder will meet in the next few months with the city's Community Development Board to present more drawings of the project.

He said if everything moves smoothly, then construction could start by next spring and would take about 18 months to complete.

Under the new plan, Miles will pay the city about $3-million for the land and contribute $570,000 for streetscape improvements along Cleveland Street.

City officials say the plan is crucial to the downtown because it brings in three much-needed elements: modern retail, more residential units and affordable housing.

"It's the heart of the city," Doran said. "If we can get it healthy, the whole city stays healthy."

Mike Donila can be reached at mdonila@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

Clearwater plans to sue previous developer over Prospect Lake title 03/28/08 [Last modified: Sunday, March 30, 2008 9:29am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. '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.