Wednesday, October 17, 2018
News Roundup

Carillon residents, businesses nervous about Tampa Bay Rays stadium plan

Robert Szasz is a deeply committed Tampa Bay Rays fan. From a seat behind home plate, he gained notoriety for taunting visiting ballplayers. People call him "the happy heckler."

But he is also a businessman. And Szasz was surprised to learn that, in a stroke of irony, a private developer's plans place the land under his restaurant inside the footprint of a possible new Rays stadium.

"It was a total blindside," said Szasz, who owns a Tropical Smoothie Café that could be razed to make way for a stadium.

Until St. Petersburg developer Darryl LeClair unveiled his vision for a baseball stadium last week, few knew the details.

The reaction from Carillon residents and businesses has been mixed, largely dominated by concern over how the megastructure would affect the area.

"It's beautiful. I like the drawings. I just don't want that stadium where they want to put it," said Dr. Ian Klein, a podiatrist who lives in Villas of Carillon, one of the area's several gated condominium complexes.

His neighbors have not met to formally discuss the stadium, Klein said, but there is widespread apprehension.

"The consensus, from speaking to my neighbors, is nobody really wants it there," he said.

Ringed by Ulmerton Road, Roosevelt Boulevard and Interstate 275, Carillon is primarily an office park. It is home to about 14,000 workers and 3,000 residents, according to CityScape, LeClair's development company.

Among Carillon's largest tenants are Raymond James, which has about 3,200 employees in its 1-million-square-foot headquarters, Franklin Templeton and Bright House Networks.

LeClair's companies control about 17.5 acres near Ulmerton Road and hope to acquire five more, including land currently occupied by a Publix, two bank branches, Courtside Grille and Szasz's cafe.

While Carillon residents are concerned about noise and traffic, Szasz and other business owners are intrigued by the idea, especially the potential to be included in the stadium's retail space.

Jim White, managing partner of the group that owns the land underneath the Publix, said he would cooperate with LeClair. Matt Geiger, a former NBA player who co-owns Courtside Grille, said he would be "more than excited to be a part of this." And Szasz, who is three years into a 15-year lease, is open to the idea of moving his cafe — for the right price.

"If they're willing to relocate us or do something about us still existing during the development, I would definitely be interested," he said.

Carillon is a sleepy place for a business owner. "Weekends are nonexistent," Szasz said.

The Publix is rarely full. CityScape estimates that after 6 p.m. on a weekday, 90 percent of the cars in the Carillon parking lots have been driven away.

For some residents, Carillon's winding roads and lack of a defined urban center are part of the appeal.

While Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni supports keeping the Rays in the county, he is skeptical that his neighbors in Feather Sound ­— a development that borders Carillon — would back a stadium. Years ago, Feather Sound rallied against extending the runway at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport because of noise and environmental concerns. Later, when a nightclub and restaurant called the Venue opened on Ulmerton, they became irritated over patrons' parking in front of their houses.

"If they had that problem with a bar, just think of the amount of cars that would be coming into a game over there," Morroni said.

In 2008, neighborhood opposition in St. Petersburg helped quash the Rays' vision of a $450 million waterfront stadium on land occupied by Al Lang Field. Raising similar questions about how the city would handle parking and traffic, the plan faced such opposition that the team handed out white and blue "Let's build the ballpark" yard signs.

To squeeze thousands of people into Carillon, LeClair has proposed adding three lanes to Ulmerton Road. The business park already has 14,000 parking spaces, but he would need the approval of neighboring companies, such as Raymond James, to use their lots. He has also built 4,300 spaces into his stadium design plans.

A spokesman for Raymond James said the company had no plans to weigh in on the potential stadium.

Anna M. Phillips can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
USF football midseason review: Jury still out on unbeaten Bulls

USF football midseason review: Jury still out on unbeaten Bulls

TAMPA — Here we stand at the halfway point of USF's season, with nary half a clue of where the Bulls appear destined.Peach Bowl or a pedestrian one? At this juncture, who can say? The No. 21  Bulls may be unbeaten (6-0) but they're ha...
Updated: 1 minute ago
Searing heat continues to remain intact across Tampa Bay

Searing heat continues to remain intact across Tampa Bay

Another October day, another potential record-high temperature in Tampa Bay.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Casey Levy adds an edge to Clearwater Central Catholicís ground game

Casey Levy adds an edge to Clearwater Central Catholicís ground game

CLEARWATER — Casey Levy can absorb pain. Two years ago, he was helping a friend chop down a tree with an axe. Suddenly, the steel blade flew off the wooden handle, striking Levy in the knee.The cut required about 10 stitches."I'm not allow...
Updated: 1 hour ago
John Romano: Liberals are dreaming when it comes to holding on to Floridaís Supreme Court

John Romano: Liberals are dreaming when it comes to holding on to Floridaís Supreme Court

This was a smackdown, no doubt about it.The state Supreme Court just rendered the judicial equivalent of a loud guffaw regarding Gov. Rick Scottís claim he is entitled to replace three retiring Supreme Court justices before he leaves office.And yet, ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Best pizza in the U.S. comes from this Boston restaurant, TripAdvisor says

Best pizza in the U.S. comes from this Boston restaurant, TripAdvisor says

TripAdvisor offered its views of the best pizza restaurants in the country, and while New York can claim one big victory, it fell short of the ultimate prize -- the best pizzeria in the land.
Updated: 2 hours ago
Michael’s most vulnerable evacuees make Pasco shelter their new home

Michael’s most vulnerable evacuees make Pasco shelter their new home

HUDSON — Linda Wood lay on a metal cot, closed her eyes and tried to get some sleep Monday night. Pictures of her Panama City apartment some 300 miles away kept flashing through her mind. The nearly blind 71-year-old envisioned her chocolate-c...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Dr. BBQ opens to the public today. Hereís a look.

Dr. BBQ opens to the public today. Hereís a look.

ST. PETERSBURGDr. BBQ needed a beer. Mission accomplished: A sip of Green Benchís Dr. BBQ Pale Lager dispatched, he was ready to start the tour. See that teal tufted couch against that wall? Itís like something from Girl & the Goat in Chicago. The wo...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Report: Tampa drivers pay different insurance rates based on ZIP code

Report: Tampa drivers pay different insurance rates based on ZIP code

It can be tough to figure out why insurance companies charge some more than others for auto coverage. But a recent analysis by the Consumer Federation of America suggests that a driverís neighborhood could be a factor. The analysis, released Monday, ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
The Daystarter: Pasco welcomes Hurricane Michael evacuees; how long will the Panhandle be without power?; long-awaited debut of Dr. BBQ is today

The Daystarter: Pasco welcomes Hurricane Michael evacuees; how long will the Panhandle be without power?; long-awaited debut of Dr. BBQ is today

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.ē Highs in the low 90s, though a tad cooler along the coast. No chance of rain, so expect a dry afternoon as well, according to the National Weather Service. The temperatures will start...
Updated: 4 hours ago
What I learned about food by eating a 27-course meal at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns

What I learned about food by eating a 27-course meal at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns

A recent trip to upstate New York provided the perfect excuse to try the renowned chef’s restaurant, and a once-in-a-lifetime meal.
Published: 10/17/18