Make us your home page
Instagram

Time's running short for Kiran Patel's resort project on Clearwater Beach

Work on the $250 million, 15-story resort on Clearwater Beach was expected to take about two years to finish.

Special to the Times

Work on the $250 million, 15-story resort on Clearwater Beach was expected to take about two years to finish.

CLEARWATER — It's been called the state's most expensive parking lot.

Bought for $40 million in the boom times of 2004, the land at the heart of Clearwater Beach's tourist district was expected to hold a $250 million, 15-story resort. Seven years later, the site owned by Kiran Patel, one of Tampa Bay's most notable philanthropists, remains a waterfront parking lot. And time is running out for Patel to get his resort project off the ground.

Patel must begin construction by February or risk losing his development order, which would zap his share of the city's density pool, granting developers extra units for their hotel projects.

That could be a disastrous setback for Patel's plans and send the land's value, listed at a $10 million loss, falling even further.

"He has a huge financial incentive to get something going," Mayor Frank Hibbard said. "The worst case scenario is pretty bad."

Patel did not return messages; he is out of the country until July 12, said Patty Tibbits, his personal assistant. She asked the Times not to contact anyone else about the project until he returned.

It's not clear what Patel plans to do. Coldwell Banker Commercial brokers offered the land for sale for $30 million last year, but city officials said it never sold. An online listing has disappeared, and messages left with Jerry Lamb, a Coldwell regional director, were not returned Tuesday.

"There are a million stories floating around," said Rod Irwin, assistant city manager for economic development.

Meanwhile, Patel has focused his wealth and attention elsewhere. In April, he sued Superior Bancorp, once Alabama's largest savings and loan institution, for coaxing him into buying $10 million in shares while withholding that the bank was failing. He asked for unspecified damages.

And in May, Patel won control of the bankrupt Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh, committing millions toward the city's largest hotel.

He told a bankruptcy judge last year he would assume the downtown hotel's $49.6 million mortgage to get back his investments. He even vowed to finish some long-stalled exterior work, stopped when the contractor walked off the job.

"Hopefully," Patel told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "the eyesore for Pittsburgh will be gone."

Patel, a cardiologist, helped found WellCare, once Florida's largest Medicaid provider. The HMO sold in 2002 for more than $200 million. He has donated millions to hospitals, universities and other charities, including the Patel Conservatory at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa and the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions, a University of South Florida research center.

But on Clearwater Beach, Patel, a novice developer, was mocked for overpaying for what was then one of the county's most expensive land buys. The 2.9 acres, just north of the new Hyatt resort, had been assembled over several years by a hotelier for about $11 million.

"All my life I have done things by gut, how I feel," Patel told the Times in 2004. "I don't know if what I'm getting into is good or bad. Time will tell."

Four old hotels on the land, including the Spyglass and a Days Inn, were demolished as Patel planned for the resort. The city vacated First Street for his use. Patel talked with Marriott International about franchising a 350-room hotel.

Plans fell apart as the market slumped. In 2008, Patel and the city struck a deal: He would pay to turn his lot into a 200-space parking lot in time for spring break, and the city would extend his deadline.

City leaders aren't optimistic about Patel's chances.

"He's not had a very good track record of keeping promises," Hibbard said. "I don't think anyone can deny he's been less than impressive. At the same time, we still want him to be victorious."

Drew Harwell can be reached at (727) 445-4170 or dharwell@sptimes.com.

Time's running short for Kiran Patel's resort project on Clearwater Beach 06/28/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 7:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA

    Airlines

    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  3. Richard Corcoran takes aim at public financing of campaigns

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, may not be running for governor — not yet anyway — but his latest idea will get the attention of those who are.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran wants the Constitu?tion Revision Commis?sion to ask voters to repeal the state’s system of partial financing of statewide elections.
  4. Related Group breaks ground on complex at old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — When Miami developer Jorge Perez first eyed a 4.2-acre tract on the west bank of the Hillsborough River two years ago, people asked him if he wouldn't prefer to build on the opposite side closer to the downtown core.

    No way.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  5. Eat 3-course meals for $35 at these 100 restaurants for Orlando's Magical Dining Month

    Food & Dining

    In the early 1900s, hotels offered "table d'hote" or "prix fixe" menus as a form of loss leader. Hotels didn't necessarily make money on these lower-priced, multi-course meals, often served at communal tables, but they made up for it on the booze. Prohibition may have contributed to a gradual shift toward a la carte …

    Bulla Gastrobar serves a variety of Spanish and Portuguese dishes.