Saturday, January 20, 2018
Business

Buyer of historic St. Petersburg YMCA says he made final payment

ST. PETERSBURG — A jumbled push to convert a historic YMCA here into a downtown "music mansion" hit another chaotic checkpoint Tuesday, with the prospective buyer's attorney saying his client made a final $1.2 million purchase payment with minutes to spare.

But neither the seller, nor a second suitor hoping to renovate the aging building, could confirm late Tuesday that the buyer had squeaked in a payment before a tight afternoon deadline.

Thomas Nestor, a local music promoter, signed a purchase agreement for the center at 116 Fifth St. S in 2012, and with the help of partners and lenders, he has paid in installments, often by the skin of his teeth.

After a late payment earlier this year, Nestor and the seller agreed that he would have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to pay the $1.2 million balance for the Mediterranean Revival-style shell built in 1926.

Nestor said he wants to renovate the building into a complex, called the Music Mansion, which would feature a concert venue, a ballroom, a cafe, music classes for at-risk kids, and apartments or hotel rooms.

On Facebook, Nestor has seemed optimistic, saying recently, "One more Angel by this Tuesday keeps her in safe hands forever," and adding, "great accomplishments happen at the buzzer!"

Late Tuesday, his attorney, Russell Cheatham, said Nestor had paid the full $1.2 million but had yet to receive confirmation from Phil Powell, who heads the investment group selling the building. Messages to Powell were not returned Tuesday.

Built for $550,000 during the Sunshine City's 1920s boom, the Young Men's Christian Association, with its basement "natatorium" swimming pool and handball courts, became an off-time hub for generations of St. Petersburg residents. Growing over the decades to include women and girls, the center offered classes for boxing, dancing, trampoline, judo and oil painting.

"Back in the Depression," one former member told the Tampa Bay Times in 2001, "it was our home away from home."

But in the decades since, its charming antiquity has made it hard for developers seeking to turn it into something new. Powell's investment group bought the building for $1 million in 2004, intending to convert it to condos, but the project flamed out and it has remained empty.

Nestor's effort has also been plagued by problems, including struggles to raise enough money to meet minimum monthly payments. He has delayed for more than a year to apply for nonprofit status, preventing donors from earning tax writeoffs.

One contributor, Dr. Robert Wallace, who pledged $360,000 toward building social programs there, sued in May to recoup some of the money after he and Nestor disagreed on the plans. That suit is ongoing.

Another buyer said he's ready to step up with development plans of his own: Nick Ekonomou, a Florida State University offensive lineman in the '80s who has redeveloped apartment projects and single-family homes across South Florida.

Ekonomou told the Tampa Bay Times last month that Powell accepted a contract to sell him the building, for an undisclosed price, if Nestor's deal falls through. He wants to renovate with apartments or hotel rooms, a spa, restaurant and youth play area, as well as a home for himself. He estimated design work and permitting would take more than a year and construction would take at least two years.

Contact Drew Harwell at [email protected]

Comments
Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

For years, Edward Peachey has bragged about the number of jobless people he has helped find work.As president and CEO of CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, he’s in charge of the two main government agencies that provide training to the...
Published: 01/20/18
Sunday Conversation: Lightning VP Keith Harris strikes a chord for the Boys & Girls Clubs

Sunday Conversation: Lightning VP Keith Harris strikes a chord for the Boys & Girls Clubs

Keith Harris fondly looks back on some memorable days from his Tampa upbringing when he worked as a lifeguard at a pool next to a Boys & Girls Club. ¶Whenever it rained, he watched as the kids retreated to the safe haven of the club. They entered int...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

Inspector General launches investigation into Tampa Bay’s local career centers

The state has opened an investigation into CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, days after the Tampa Bay Times asked about whether the two regional job centers were inflating the number of people they had helped get hired. The agencies, ...
Published: 01/19/18
Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

Tech firm TranferWise moves to Ybor City, illustrating a new chapter in Tampa’s business history

TAMPA — You could sketch an economic history of the city of Tampa — and maybe get a glimpse of its future — just by looking at the old J. Seidenberg & Co./Havana-American Cigar Factory.It opened in 1894, making it Ybor City’s second-oldest brick ciga...
Published: 01/19/18

Want to buy into an exchanged-traded bitcoin fund? You might have a long wait

NEW YORK — It may be a while, if ever, before investors can buy an exchange-traded fund made up of bitcoin and other digital currencies. Federal regulators have a long list of questions they want answered before they’ll approve a digital currency fun...
Published: 01/19/18
Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

Child psychologist weighs in on mom who charges 5-year-old ‘rent’

A Georgia mother has gone viral for charging her 5-year-old "rent." Yup — the kid pays up for food, water, cable and electric, too.Essense Evans described in a Facebook post how she handles her daughter’s allowance. The post, written on Saturday, was...
Published: 01/19/18

Addicted to your smartphone? Now there’s an app for that

Did you text? Sorry, I can’t see messages right now. Arianna Huffington locked my phone.The media tycoon turned wellness entrepreneur wants to keep you out of your phone, too, with a new app called Thrive. Its goal is to make it cool for a generation...
Published: 01/19/18
Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

ST. PETERSBURG — Tony Jannus’s history-making flight in an early seaplane — simultaneously as ungainly and graceful as a pelican on the wing — is what Mayor Rick Kriseman calls an "under-told and under-appreciated" story, but a team of local history ...
Published: 01/19/18
Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — The newest hope for transportation in the Tampa Bay area is a bus rapid transit system projected to cover the 41-miles separating St. Petersburg from Wesley Chapel and attract 4,500 new riders at a fraction of the cost of light rail....
Published: 01/19/18
Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

Five things Tampa Bay needs to know about bus rapid transit

ST. PETERSBURG — Transportation planners on Friday unveiled a new transit vision for Tampa Bay leaders on Friday morning: Bus rapid transit.Also known as BRT, it has arisen as the leading option in an ongoing study to find the best regional transit p...
Published: 01/19/18