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Upscale apartments at U.S. 19, Roosevelt may join proposed Walmart Supercenter

LARGO — It might not be just a Walmart after all.

An Atlanta real estate investment firm is interested in developing a 336-unit apartment complex next to a proposed Walmart Supercenter at the site of the old Crossroads Mall, formerly the Bay Area Outlet Mall.

The 38.5-acre site at U.S. 19 and Roosevelt Boulevard has sat vacant since it was bought in 2005 for $26 million by Boulder Venture South, which razed the mall. The Clearwater developer's grand plans for Largo Towne Center, a proposed $150 million retail and residential hub, were scuttled by the economy, though. Wells Fargo and Regions Bank filed a foreclosure suit in February alleging that a Boulder Venture subsidiary owed the banks more than $20 million.

In late August city officials confirmed there would finally be some development at the site — a Walmart, which had originally been just one of many stores planned for Largo Towne Center. Walmart hopes to build a 120,000-square-foot store at the southwest corner of the property, according to site plans filed with Largo this month.

The supercenter and its 600 parking spots would take up roughly 15 acres, leaving about 20 acres on the east side of the property for development. Wells Fargo is requiring Walmart to make infrastructure improvements like installing sewer and water lines on the entire property, according to city officials, in the hopes of luring a residential developer.

The strategy may have worked, with Atlanta's Pollack Partners now wanting to develop "Class A apartments" there — a term for multifamily complexes with amenities like clubhouses, workout centers and pools.

A representative of Pollack Partners sent a letter to the Largo community development staff Sept. 8 asking to negotiate with the city on a development agreement.

Pollack's properties include Bay Isle Key in St. Petersburg and Five West Apartments in Tampa, complexes Pollack's website refers to as "luxury" communities. Anthony Everett, the Pollack representative who wrote the letter, did not return a call for comment.

Largo Community Development Director Carol Stricklin called Pollack's plans "promising."

"We're very pleased that somebody has emerged with a quality project," she said.

Pollack would like some concessions from the city on density limits, parking ratios and impact fees, according to Everett's letter.

Walmart's site plan includes a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority transfer station, which would be on the east side of the supercenter along a north-south road that will bisect the property. Walmart officials didn't reply to a request for comment. Stricklin said store construction could begin in early 2012.

For Boulder Venture South CEO Bob Schmidt Jr., the plans represent a chance to finally get something on land that he once had much higher hopes for.

"We're trying to figure out where we can get our biggest bang for our buck," Schmidt said. "It's difficult times for everybody."

Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or whobson@sptimes.com.

Upscale apartments at U.S. 19, Roosevelt may join proposed Walmart Supercenter 09/20/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 5:29pm]
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