Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Business

With prison purchase, Tampa firm scoops up another land holding

TAMPA — The Tampa company approved by the state to buy a shuttered prison near Riverview operates several residential communities and controls tracts of undeveloped land in southern Hillsborough County.

The Eisenhower Property Group — consisting of husband-and-wife partners Jeffery and Tonya Hills of South Tampa — was the sole bidder on the former Hillsborough Correctional Institution. The company offered more than $3.5 million for the 135-acre site that most recently served as a women's prison until it was closed in 2012. Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet approved the bid Tuesday.

Eisenhower Property already owns land next to the prison. In a phone interview Wednesday, Jeffery Hills said the prison purchase "was solely for the purposes of preserving the extension of that development."

After the company closes on the deal, it will probably demolish the site's existing structures in the next year. According to the state, the land includes 25 buildings and nine temporary structures.

Public records show that Eisenhower Property Group owns numerous holdings in the Riverview, Apollo Beach, Ruskin and Wimauma areas.

"We're residential developers," Hills said.

Hills said the company has two communities on Symmes Road in Riverview, called Carriage Pointe and Riverview Meadows; a trio of communities within South Fork, which is also in Riverview; and a handful of communities scattered throughout Wimauma and Ruskin.

The company also has another community on Fern Hill Drive that is under development review by Hillsborough County; and a community south of South Fork that's under construction.

Hills previously owned a civil engineering firm called Hills & Associates. He sold the company in 2008 for an amount he wouldn't specify.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Hills graduated with a civil engineering degree from Auburn University. In 1999, he earned a master' degree in business administration from the University of South Florida.

Asked about he and his wife's history as business owners, Hills said, "We have been large landowners in south county for a number of years now.

"We've developed a number of these properties and been successful at it, quite honestly."

Zack Peterson can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3446.

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