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Land once touted for Rays stadium sold to beer distributor

ST. PETERSBURG — Ninety-six acres once considered a possible location for a new Tampa Bay Rays baseball stadium will become the home for one of Florida's largest beer distributors.

Great Bay Distributors Inc. recently purchased the property in Pinellas County's Gateway area along Interstate 275 for $9.75 million from BB&T Bank. The lender seized the property last year from developer Grady Pridgen, who once proposed the mixed-use La Entrada project on the site.

The parcel, which listed at $12 million, sits just north of Gandy Boulevard along the interstate and was one of the biggest parcels available in Pinellas County with enough contiguous space for a large project.

The majority of land in Pinellas County that remains available for large development is considered irregularly shaped, limiting the opportunity for new construction with a sizable footprint, according to real estate consultant CBRE, which marketed and sold the site for the bank.

Great Bay Distributors is one of Florida's largest distributors of Anheuser-Busch products.

"The shape of the parcel and the proximity to I-275 in the Pinellas Gateway market is ideal for a distribution facility," said CBRE senior associate Jarib Rodriguez. "The site was perfectly suited for the buyer's needs."

The land includes nearly 30 acres of ponds. The Valpak distribution center sits to the north of the site; Jabil Circuit owns the property to the south.

Ron Petrini, president of Great Bay, could not be reached. He told the Tampa Bay Business Journal that the company plans to build a warehouse and distribution facility but does not have a timeline for construction. The company has facilities in Largo and Holiday.

"This will not be a third facility, it will be in place of," Petrini told the Journal.

Tom Morrissette, president of the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce, said he doesn't know if Great Bay will close the Largo location. A move would definitely hurt the tax base in Largo, he said.

"I'm sure it will have a substantial impact," he said. "That's a big facility."

Largo Mayor Pat Gerard said she hopes, if Great Bay is considering moving out of Largo, that city officials can persuade it to stay. But she's glad they aren't leaving the region.

"It'd be a big loss; although, as long they'll stay in the county, it's a good thing," she said.

Times staff writer Will Hobson contributed to this report. Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.

Land once touted for Rays stadium sold to beer distributor 03/06/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 9:38pm]
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