Saturday, December 16, 2017
Business

Largo wants more apartments, and it's getting them

LARGO — The decaying remains of a golf driving range sit off 66th Street N just south of Ulmerton Road. There's a two-story structure that used to house air-conditioned tee boxes. The large site has long been abandoned and overgrown with vegetation, a 13-acre void in southeast Largo.

Now a developer has bought the property and is in talks with the city about building hundreds of market-rate apartments there. It's the same developer who's building 260 apartments at the former site of the Briarwood Travel Villa RV Park, 4 miles to the west near Largo Mall.

It's another sign that rental housing in Largo is taking off. And in an effort to spark more redevelopment, Largo leaders have decided to continue waiving the hefty fee that developers normally pay for parkland acquisition.

For many years, developers were required to pay impact fees to Largo to provide parks for the residents who would be moving into their new apartment complexes, condos and subdivisions. But for the past two years, Largo has stopped collecting its parkland fee.

Last week, Largo commissioners voted to extend the moratorium on this fee for another two years. They'll vote on this a second time at their Nov. 19 meeting. Officials have seen little opposition to this idea other than a disappointed letter from the Friends of Largo Nature Parks.

For the time being, commissioners are okay with not charging the fee because Largo already has nearly $2.2 million in the bank specifically for buying parkland.

However, officials also say they don't want to cancel the parks impact fee for good. "I'm afraid we're just going to keep on doing this," said Commissioner Michael Smith.

Fees amounted to $2,874 for single-family houses and $1,434 to $1,916 per unit for multifamily projects. A number of developers had asked the city to extend the moratorium.

One was Largo developer Steve McConihay, who bought the bankrupt Briarwood Travel Villa RV Park last year for $1.25 million. After a bumpy ride through the regulatory process, he has won approval to build 260 apartments there beginning in the spring. The new complex will be named the Boulevard.

McConihay has also snapped up the driving range property at 12700 66th St. N, just south of Ulmerton. It's the former site of the All in One Golf Practice and Learning Center, which closed years ago. Three years ago, a 304-unit apartment complex called Largo Villas was planned for the site, but the recession killed that plan.

McConihay's company, Dockside Investors, bought the 13 acres last year for $1.25 million, according to Pinellas County property records. The previous owners were in bankruptcy proceedings.

Largo commissioners voted last week to authorize city staffers to negotiate a development agreement with McConihay. City planners are talking about limiting the apartment complex to 288 units, while the developer's lawyer is talking about building 304 units.

The process should be simpler than the case of the Briarwood development, which faced significant delays due to tenants living in the RV park.

"Fortunately, y'all, this one has nobody living on it. There's nobody there. It's vacant land," McConihay's attorney, Jonathan Damonte, told Largo commissioners. "I'm hoping we're going to have a nice, short, happy trip this time."

Commissioners mostly wanted, and got, assurances that apartments would have market-rate rents and would not be subsidized housing.

"I'm glad to see something happening to this property finally," Commissioner Curtis Holmes said.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a hostess and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute, little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and the...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Pigs can be therapy animals too. So can horses and rats and cats and llamas and … (w/video)

Shrieks of laughter echoed off the walls of the hospital as Thunder the mini pig flopped onto his side and the children huddled around him, scratching his pink, hairy belly. He and his wet-nosed partner, Bolt, drew patients in wheelchairs and bandage...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

Vology landlord challenges property tax assessment

LARGO — Eight months after paying $10.15 million for the office building that houses IT services company Vology, a New York company is suing the Pinellas County Property Appraiser and Florida Department of Revenue contending its $5.5 million tax asse...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

Taxpayer subsidies of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

TAMPA — For the half of the year that Harry Nichols lives in Oldsmar, he plays 18 holes several times a month at Rocky Point Golf Course. On a good day, Nichols said he shoots close to par on the Dana Shores course. And if he’s really lucky, it’ll on...
Published: 12/15/17
Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

Florida’s $1.1 billion Hardest Hit Fund winding down after some hard knocks

In 2010, Florida was in the throes of an unprecedented housing crisis. One in every eight homes was in some stage of foreclosure. Today, the foreclosure rate is one in every 83. Because of that enormous drop, Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund will s...
Published: 12/15/17
Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

Report: Rich will get still richer unless policies change

By ELAINE KURTENBACHTOKYO — Global inequality has stabilized at high levels in recent years, a report said Friday, despite gains among the poor in China and much milder disparities in incomes and wealth in Western Europe. The World Inequality Report ...
Published: 12/15/17
How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

How the Disney/Fox deal will shake up Hollywood

Associated Press NEW YORK — After years of tremors, the earthquake that had long been predicted finally shook Hollywood. Disney’s deal to purchase most of 21st Century Fox ends the era of the "Big Six" major movie studios, toppling one ...
Published: 12/15/17
St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, under construction since 2015, is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2019.The five-story, 137,100-square-foot building will house businessman and collector Rudy Ciccarello’s...
Published: 12/15/17
Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Obamacare enrollment ends today, but some can get an extension

Today is the day that open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act will close for most people. But those affected by the slew of hurricanes that pummelled Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other states earlier this year can take advantage of a two-week ...
Published: 12/15/17
Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

Pack your bags: 107.3M Americans to set holiday traveling record

A record-breaking number of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season.The American Automobile Association projects that 107.3 million Americans will pack their bags and travel more than 50 miles by planes, trains, automobiles and other mod...
Published: 12/14/17