Make us your home page

Parkview Hotel could change hands again


Don't plan on that wedding reception at the Parkview Hotel at Central Avenue and Park Street after all. Instead, consider a retirement party there.

A developer and investor who raised hopes by touting a much needed renovation of the historic, Mediterranean revival hotel and even booked weddings there, isn't paying his property taxes and has a history of grandiose ideas that don't come to fruition. But a building official says another investor has expressed serious interest in buying the 66-room hotel at 7401 Central Ave. either from the owner or at a foreclosure auction.

• • •

"This person may have interest in a retirement type facility," said city building official Rick Dunn. "We're working with him to set up a meeting to talk to the zoning department to understand the zoning uses." He would not name the potential buyer because the deal is still in the works. Dunn has extended building permits filed by current owner Norman Kerr in hopes that construction, which has been at a standstill for at least a year, can resume under a new owner.

"I would love to see the city force somebody to do something," said John Rawls, who lives on First Avenue N directly behind the hotel that Kerr named the Parkview Hotel. "If somebody would just spruce it up I could deal with most anything. I have to sit and look at it every single day so I'm especially disgusted with it."

Kerr, a Minneapolis and South Florida developer, paid $3.5 million for the 92-year-old property in 2007, historically known as the Crystal Bay Hotel. It now has a market value of $1.2 million according to the Pinellas County Property Appraiser.

Before Kerr's investment group, Central Avenue Hotel LLC, bought the hotel overlooking Boga Ciega Bay, neighbors say it charged low rates and attracted clients that in turn attracted crime and the police on a regular basis. So they were thrilled to hear Kerr's plans called for updating rooms, increasing rates, adding a swimming pool and opening a restaurant in the former ballroom that supposedly once hosted Glenn Miller, Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth, Al Capone and Robert Kennedy.

Along with not following through on his plans, Kerr, who could not be reached for comment, hasn't paid real estate taxes on the building either. But fortunately for him and Pinellas County, somebody else paid the taxes through the common practice of buying the tax certificate.

Essentially that means the investor pays the taxes, and the property owner has to pay that person back with interest. Eventually, an investor who hasn't been paid back can force the property to be auctioned.

Kerr didn't pay the 2007, 2008 or 2009 real estate taxes on the building. But three separate entities bought the tax certificates and thus paid the taxes for him.

Just days before the 2007 certificate would turn 3 years old and give the holder the right to force a foreclosure, it was paid off.

"Somebody has an active interest in protecting the property rights here," said Sam McClelland, Pinellas County deputy tax collector. "I'm just reading the tea leaves but if somebody was going to walk away would they come in at the last minute and pay all this money? Somebody pulled together $50,000 and that's a serious effort."

By the end of October when the building permits near expiration again, the latest hope for the Parkview Hotel — be it Kerr again or a new investor— may emerge.

Kerr, 70, has been involved in many projects in Florida and Minnesota that have resulted in a variety of outcomes including flipping and foreclosure. He has formed dozens of corporations, most of which are now inactive. Liens and lawsuits follow him. His hometown newspapers frequently call him a "dreamer." The word "grandiose" seems to accompany him as often as the legal and money problems.

In the mid 1990s, he tried to build a $400 million casino in an old railway station in Minneapolis. A few years later he planned to start a daily newspaper in a market that already had two competing papers in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Here in St. Petersburg, he doesn't have to do near as much to impress folks. If he just keeps the grass cut at the Parkview, neighbors will be pleased. Dunn said now that the empty building is secured and the lawn is maintained every 30 days there are no code violations against Kerr.

"It's never going to be maintained to the level the neighbors are maintaining their single family residences," Dunn said. "I periodically drive by to check it and if I need to call (the Parkview management) they respond quickly."

News researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Reach Katherine Snow Smith at or (727) 893-8785.

Parkview Hotel could change hands again 09/28/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 7:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. ReliaQuest's benevolent hackers try to make companies more secure


    TAMPA — Their goal is to get in. Past a security desk, through a firewall, into a system they shouldn't have access to. Sometimes they'll look like a regular person in the lobby who innocently forgot their access badge. Most times they won't be seen at all, remotely and quietly prodding a company's systems from a …

    Angelo Castellano of Tampa works at his desk at ReliaQuest | | [CHARLIE KAIJO, Times]
  2. Despite soaring home prices, Tampa Bay still an affordable market

    Real Estate

    Times Staff Writer

    Finally, some good news for Tampa Bay home buyers. Despite rising prices, the bay area remains relatively affordable compared to many other parts of the country.

    Despite rising prices, the bay area remains relatively affordable compared to many other parts of the country. [Associated Press file photo]
  3. National economy off to a luckluster start this year


    WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy got off to a lackluster start during the first three months of 2017, though it enjoyed more momentum than earlier estimates indicated.

    he U.S. economy got off to a lackluster start during the first three months of 2017, though it enjoyed more momentum than earlier estimates indicated.
[Associated Press file photo]
  4. Last steel beam marks construction milestone for Tom and Mary James' museum


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom and Mary James on Wednesday signed their names to the last steel beam framing the 105-ton stone mesa that will be built at the entrance of the museum that bears their name: the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art.

    The topping-out ceremony of the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art was held Wednesday morning in downtown St. Petersburg. Mary James (from left), husband Tom and Mayor Rick Kriseman signed the final beam before it was put into place. When finished, the $55 million museum at 100 Central Ave. will hold up to 500 pieces of the couple's 3,000-piece art collection. [Courtesy of James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art]
  5. Heights Public Market to host two Tampa Bay food trucks


    TAMPA — The Heights Public Market announced the first two food trucks for its "rotating stall," which will feature new restaurants every four months. Surf and Turf and Empamamas will be rolled out first.

    Heights Public Market is opening this summer inside the Tampa Armature Works building.
[SKIP O'ROURKE   |   Times file photo]