LARGO — A large new apartment complex is officially coming to a blighted stretch of 66th Street N, and officials are hopeful that the addition of nearly 260 market-rate apartments will help the area blossom.
Largo city commissioners last week approved plans for the new complex, which is to be built on the 13-acre site of a former golf driving range that's abandoned and overgrown with vegetation.
The property at 12700 66th St. N, just south of Ulmerton Road, is the former home of the All in One Golf Practice and Learning Center, which closed years ago. All that's left now is a vacant building connected to a two-story structure that used to house air-conditioned tee boxes.
News of the apartment complex has Largo officials thinking about the immediate area around it. There are two issues:
• A large vacant lot next to the former driving range is for sale. It's at the northwest corner of 66th Street and 126th Avenue N, just south of the apartment site. Could it be used to expand the complex? The developer says he has no plans to buy it.
• Once the apartments open, Largo hopes to lure a grocery store back into a shopping center just north of the site, said Teresa Brydon, the city's economic development manager.
A large building at 13000 66th St. N that was once a Kash n' Karry supermarket now houses a thrift store. The rest of the shopping center's storefronts have been taken over by a Metro Self Storage location.
"We plan to be here a long time," said Jan Welch, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Research Center and Foundation, a charity that collects goods to be sold at the thrift store. The 30,000-square-foot store, called Super Thrift, has been there since October 2010.
An agreement between Largo and the developer limits the new apartment complex to no more than 258 apartments in buildings that are no more than four stories tall. A site plan for the property shows a series of apartment buildings clustered around two large ponds, with exits onto 66th Street and 126th Avenue N.
Largo commissioners unanimously supported the project. They mostly wanted assurances that the proposed apartments would have market-rate rents and would not be subsidized housing.
Largo developer Steve McConihay's company, Dockside Investors, is buying the 13-acre former driving range. It's on the market at a listed price of $3.9 million. For property tax purposes, it has an assessed value of $1.8 million. The property is under contract for a sale, and the actual sale price has not yet been released. Four years ago, a 304-unit apartment complex called Largo Villas was planned for the site, but the recession killed that plan.
McConihay is the same developer who is building 260 apartments at the former site of the Briarwood Travel Villa RV Park, 4 miles to the west on Seminole Boulevard near Largo Mall. He bought the bankrupt RV Park two years ago for $1.25 million.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4151.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: A 13-acre former golf driving range at 12700 66th St. N, Largo, is on the market at a listed price of $3.9 million. It has an assessed value of $1.8 million. The property is under contract for a sale, and the actual sale price has not yet been released.