Make us your home page
Instagram

Entrepreneur pays Clearwater $1 million to retain beach hotel development rights

CLEARWATER — Once again, Dr. Kiran Patel is putting his money where his mouth is.

The Tampa-based cardiologist, health care entrepreneur and philanthropist paid the city of Clearwater a whopping $1 million on Tuesday to keep the right to build a large resort on nearly 3 acres of Clearwater Beach property that he owns.

The million-dollar move buys Patel more time to line up financing for the $250 million beach resort that he has been hoping to build for nine years, ever since he paid $40 million for a prime piece of property just south of Pier 60. It was one of the priciest land purchases in Pinellas County history.

That property, located at the split of S Gulfview Boulevard and Coronado Drive, has been bare ever since the nine-story Spyglass Resort with its well-known hot air balloon mural was dynamited in 2008. Two other hotels on the parcel, the Days Inn and the Beach Towers, were also demolished to make way for Patel's mega-resort.

Today the property functions as a roughly paved beach parking lot with 200 spaces. Clearwater Vice Mayor Paul Gibson calls it the state's most expensive parking lot.

Why did Patel have to pay $1 million by Tuesday? He agreed to do this the last time he asked Clearwater to extend his construction deadline. He has repeatedly asked the city for extensions as he has struggled to secure financing for the project.

In early 2012, the City Council begrudgingly extended Patel's deadline one more time. In return, Patel agreed to pay the city up to $3 million if construction doesn't begin within three years. He is to pay $1 million a year into an escrow account that the city gets to keep if construction doesn't start by February 2015.

"Dr. Patel remains committed to the hotel," his attorney Paul Raymond said in an email to city officials Tuesday after the $1 million payment was made. Patel hasn't returned calls from the Tampa Bay Times.

Mayor George Cretekos and City Manager Bill Horne met with Patel about the project in December. He told them he was still working on getting financing and that he was talking to the Wyndham hotel group about managing the resort. He previously had been talking to Marriott.

Although the city has long been frustrated at the lack of progress on the resort, Horne views the $1 million payment as a positive sign.

"I remain optimistic," Horne said. "He's still complying with the development agreement as he marches forward to a date when he pulls permits and starts construction."

Cretekos believes that if Patel doesn't break ground by 2015, he'll be out of chances.

"I would have a very hard time granting another extension," the mayor said Wednesday. "As long as the parking lot is still there, I'm getting mighty used to seeing that open space.

"With the economy improving, this is a prime location. But if Dr. Patel can't put this together, then maybe he ought to figure out some other plan."

A cardiologist turned entrepreneur, Patel created WellCare HMO and built it into a $1-billion-a-year business before selling it. He currently owns two other managed-care health plans. He and his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel, are generous benefactors who have donated millions of dollars to Tampa Bay area charities. They recently broke ground on an opulent 63,000-square-foot mansion with a 12-car garage in Carrollwood in Hillsborough County.

Patel bought the Clearwater Beach property in 2004. Other developers said the investment was risky. "Maybe I overpaid," he acknowledged later that year.

He originally planned to build a 900,000-square-foot resort with 15-story towers of condos. When the condo market collapsed, the plan shifted to a mix of hotel rooms and time-share units. At this point, the plan has switched entirely to hotel rooms, and the resort has shrunk to 715,000 square feet.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Entrepreneur pays Clearwater $1 million to retain beach hotel development rights 02/13/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 7:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel

    Business

    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.

  2. Tampa International Airport morphing into a mini-city unto itself

    Airlines

    TAMPA — By the end of the 2026, Joe Lopano wants Tampa International Airport to function as its own little city.

    Artist rendering of phase two of the $1 billion construction expansion of Tampa International Airport. The airport is transforming 17 acres of airport property that will include at least one hotel, retail and office space and a gas station, among other things.
[Courtesy of Tampa International Airport]
  3. Lost Highway: As FHP struggles to recruit, speeding tickets plummet

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The number of speeding tickets written by Florida state troopers has plunged three straight years as the agency grapples with a personnel shortage and high turnover.

    State data shows FHP troopers are not writing violations for speeding or other infractions like they did back in 2011, even though there's 1 million more licensed drivers in Florida.
  4. Kidpreneurs — and adults — capitalize on gooey, squishy Slime craze

    Retail

    Aletheia Venator and Berlyn Perdomo demonstrate the stretchiness of their slime. - Berlyn Perdomo and her friend, Aletheia Venator, both 13, make and sell slime which can be seen on their instagram site @the.real.slimeshadyy [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  5. The last farmer of Florida's prized Zellwood corn is thinking of packing it in

    Consumer

    MOUNT DORA — Hank Scott steps out of his pickup between the long rows and snaps off an ear that grows about bellybutton-high on the forehead-high stalks.

    Hank Scott, co-owner of Long and Scott Farms, shucks an ear of corn on the farm in Mount Dora, Fla., on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. The farm specializes in Scott's Zellwood Triple-Sweet Gourmet Corn. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times