Friday, December 15, 2017
Business

St. Petersburg real estate investor corners a speculative market

ST. PETERSBURG — The 103-year-old faded yellow house sits defiantly on the corner of Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue S while construction workers, cranes and concrete mixers hum all around it. The Harbour's Edge and Urban Landings apartments are rising on most of the block within inches of the house.

It's reminiscent of Pixar's movie Up, in which a stubborn senior citizen refuses to sell his home as a concrete city grows around it. He ultimately ties helium balloons to the roof and floats away.

But in this real-life scenario it's not a sentimental curmudgeon boycotting progress, but a 28-year-old who's counting on it. Real estate investor Samuel Boutros bought the house, which is subdivided into four apartments, for $130,000 in 2011.

"One of the reasons that property was appealing to me was the fact that it was a holdout piece," he said. "The theory is you own the corner, you own the block, with the focus being on the short term."

But when Atlantic Housing Partners, the apartment developer, made an offer to buy the house it was only a "few thousand" more than what Boutros paid, he said.

"We approached the owner of the house on the outparcel adjacent to our apartment community but were not able to come to an agreement on a purchase price that was mutually acceptable," said Scott Culp, a principal with Winter Park-based Atlantic Housing.

So Boutros opted to keep it and collect the rental income instead of flip for a small profit.

"One of the biggest mistakes people make is buying something they couldn't really afford to hold on to, thinking the only real gain is flipping it,'' he said. "My focus is a balance of two thoughts. It needs to more or less make me money now, in the short term, and if I can flip it in the long term, the flipping is sort of the icing on the cake."

• • •

Boutros learned this rule, that real estate investments should have cash flow, from his father, who invested in properties in Orlando. When his father died in 2010, Boutros graduated from law school and invested some of his inheritance in St. Petersburg real estate.

"I purchased a lot of corners in Grand Central with the long-term hope that they will end up being a holdout piece," he said. "Obviously development is going to start moving south and west" of the center of downtown.

He owns the 39,000-square-foot historic Kress building at 475 Central Ave. After Margarita Mama's came and went recently, two new tenants are arriving and opening before the end of the year.

Moscato's Bella Cucina is moving there from 449 Central to have room for 150 tables and special events.

And Nouvelle Beauty Bar will offer manicures, pedicures, wine, champagne and mimosas. Beyond that, it will also have a "blow bar" where women can get their hair washed (with a head massage) and then blow-dried and styled.

"No cuts or color, just styling if you are going out to a nice dinner or a special event," said owner Thuy Le. The service will cost about $35 and include a drink.

Le, who owns the Vietnamese restaurant La V three doors down at 441 Central, is having white crocodile leather pedicure stations custom-made for the spa.

"It's going to be all white with a touch of gray," she said.

Boutros expects the new tenants, who have already proven themselves, to fare much better than Margarita Mama's.

"That was a poorly done buildout and a poor concept,'' he said. "I was not upset or sad to see it close."

But that flashy restaurant was one of the few businesses that even considered leasing the historic building in 2011. This time he showed the property to more than 40 prospective tenants.

Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8785.

Comments
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...
Updated: 1 hour ago
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...
Updated: 3 hours ago
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 ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
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 ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
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...
Updated: 10 hours ago
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
Local widowers say baby powder caused their wives’ cancer

Local widowers say baby powder caused their wives’ cancer

Two Tampa area widowers whose wives died of ovarian cancer are suing Johnson & Johnson, joining nearly 5,000 other plaintiffs across the country who blame their illness on the daily use of the pharmaceutical company’s talcum powder.Bryan Isa’s wife, ...
Published: 12/14/17
Jabil’s fiscal results top Wall Street expectations

Jabil’s fiscal results top Wall Street expectations

ST. PETERSBURG — Jabil Circuit Inc. beat Wall Street expectations for both profits and revenue Thursday.The St. Petersburg-based contract electronics manufacturer — one of Tampa Bay’s biggest public companies — posted fiscal first-quarter earnings of...
Published: 12/14/17
Soccer store opens on Gunn Highway, just in time for the World Cup

Soccer store opens on Gunn Highway, just in time for the World Cup

Even though the United States Men’s soccer team didn’t qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, that hasn’t diminished local fans’ excitement about the upcoming international event.Ariel Martinez, owner of Best Buy Soccer and Lacrosse, has already receiv...
Published: 12/14/17