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Dave's Aqua Lounge purchase is pivotal for developer

ST. PETERSBURG — The end of one St. Petersburg landmark could serve as the gateway to another. The new owner of Dave's Aqua Lounge is a corporation with ties to longtime developer Grady Pridgen.

The iconic rock building on Gandy Boulevard east of Fourth Street will be the key piece to more than 30 acres of land Pridgen has been assembling since 1998. It gives the large parcel, a rarity in Pinellas County, access to Gandy Boulevard.

Chimayo LLC, a corporation that lists Pridgen's wife, Jodi Pridgen, as its manager and shares a 16th Street N address with Grady Pridgen's real estate company, has purchased the property. It paid $400,000 for the 4,000-square-foot bar at 10820 Gandy Blvd.

Neither Grady nor Jodi Pridgen could be reached for comment. When former owner Dave Mamber closed the live music "joint" after 48 years, he said the buyer didn't want to be identified. Public property records now show it is Chimayo.

"I think this is important," said Bill Eshenbaugh, a veteran of land development in Tampa Bay, who is not connected to the property. "Any time you get 10, 12, or 16 acres together in Pinellas County, it's a story to tell."

With demand high for apartments in St. Petersburg and growing interest in condominiums on or near the water, he said either product would be a good fit.

The partly wooded landscape also could be developed into 30 to 40 single-family homes.

Eighteen acres of the property are identified as submerged land on the Pinellas County Property Appraiser's website. This southern end fronts Masters Bayou above Riviera Bay. The submerged area wouldn't allow for construction but would offer a great view to residents on the adjacent acreage.

More than half of the land is unincorporated.

"Annexation of that area has always been the city's goal and if there's a way we can do it we'll try to do it," said Dave Goodwin, St. Petersburg's director of economic development. "We've had experience working with Grady in the past and would certainly like to work with him in the future."

Eshenbaugh pointed to the apartments and condos on the north side of Gandy as evidence of a demand for housing with quick access to Tampa and several areas of Pinellas County.

Apartments at Tortuga Pointe, built in 2010, rent for $1,000 to $2,000 a month. Brighton Bay includes apartment developments built over the past decade where monthly rents start around $1,000.

The 11-story Mangrove Cay condominiums were built in 2007 and sold originally for between $350,000 and $450,000. One unit sold last year for $162,000. Three buildings of condos at Grande Verandahs went up in 2005; units sold for around $400,000 each. Recently some units have sold for $100,000 to $170,000.

Pridgen certainly knows the ups and downs of real estate and has lost several properties to foreclosure in recent years. The majority of the large Gandy parcel is owned by his wife's corporation, Chimayo. It bought much of the land from Grady Pridgen in 2008 in arm's length transactions.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at kssmith@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8785.

Dave's Aqua Lounge purchase is pivotal for developer 07/13/13 [Last modified: Saturday, July 13, 2013 1:07pm]
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