PORT RICHEY — The vacant Service Merchandise building on U.S. 19, considered one of the poster children for needed redevelopment in west Pasco, has been sold to U-Haul of Florida Co., which plans to turn the former discount department store into a storage facility.
Commissioner Mike Moore announced the sale Tuesday at the conclusion of the Pasco County Commission meeting.
No sale price is listed, but, for tax purposes, the Pasco Property Appraiser's Office set the value of the building and 6 acres at just more than $1.3 million.
The store, at 10340 U.S. 19, just north of the city of Port Richey, measures 56,000 square feet and was built in 1980. It closed in 1997, becoming a frequent target for graffiti artists and vagrants, and rising public angst because of its high-profile location. A previous proposal for an Ashley Furniture store at the site never came to fruition.
"People have been waiting a long time for that property to be cleaned up,'' Moore said.
The sale comes just after the county enacted tougher code enforcement standards intended to stem blighted commercial buildings. The new rules, effective May 1, could trigger commercial real estate sales, Moore suggested, as owners look to divest themselves of property in disrepair.