Monday, December 18, 2017
News Roundup

Investor buys 11-story office building in downtown Clearwater

CLEARWATER— A Latvian-born Water's Edge penthouse condo resident made a splash last year when he bought retail space at the base of the tower. Now he's expanding his reach downtown, snapping up the 11-story Bank of America building on Cleveland Street.

Daniels Ikajevs, 32, didn't immediately return a call for comment on the $7.3 million purchase. But downtown boosters and city officials believe that local ownership of the landmark property at 600 Cleveland Street is good news for downtown.

Clearwater's City Council appears poised to strike a deal to help Ikajevs better market his new property.

"We're certainly hopeful that Ikajevs becomes more of a permanent owner, as opposed to a 'lease-up and sell' transitional owner and is more involved in the overall strategy for downtown," said Rod Irwin, assistant city manager for economic development.

Irwin said Ikajevs bought the building from a Texas bank that specializes in buying foreclosed properties and attracting enough tenants to make them attractive buys. Right now, the 145,000-square-foot office building is about 70 percent leased.

Ikajevs "seems to be interested in becoming a player in downtown development," said Irwin.

One hurdle was adequate parking. On Monday, the City Council advanced a plan to lease 78 spaces in the city-owned Garden Avenue garage across the street to Ikajevs for $2,500 a month. In exchange, the city will get after-hours and weekend access to about 50 surface lot spots owned by Ikajevs.

The final vote is scheduled for Thursday's council meeting.

Ikajevs' latest buy is just the tip of the iceberg for downtown, said Bill Sturtevant, chairman of the Clearwater Downtown Partnership.

"We've got major, major investors who have taken a very strong interest in downtown. It's what we've all been waiting for," Sturtevant said.

As many as four other investors are looking at downtown parcels. They like what they see, especially the year-end opening of a refurbished Capitol Theatre, but want some answers on limited parking options, Sturtevant said. He declined to identify the other investors.

Possible new tenants for the Bank of America building include a "blend" of tech firms and support services for the tech industry, Irwin said.

Downtown planners and boosters hope to expand a tech sector that already employs several hundred workers. In June, the City Council picked a developer to build hundreds of high-end apartments and retail space in Prospect Lake, just east of downtown. They hope the development will help keep the young, highly-paid workers spending their leisure time and money in Clearwater instead of commuting to Tampa or St. Petersburg.

Earlier this year, Ikajevs bought 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space in Water's Edge next to City Hall, where he said he planned to open a gelato shop. The shop hasn't opened yet.

Ikajevs also bought five storefronts along the 500 block of Cleveland Street, the former home of Peter Gillham's Nutrition Center. He told the Tampa Bay Times at the time that he hoped to renovate and lease the storefronts in time for the Capitol Theatre's opening, now slated for December. They are still shuttered.

A native of Latvia, a Baltic nation formally controlled by the Soviet Union, Ikajevs has lived in the area for more than a dozen years. He told the Times in April that because he is foreign-born and interested in buying downtown property, people often assume that he is a Scientologist. Ikajevs said he doesn't belong to the church.

Charlie Frago can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago

Comments
Advocates push orca breeding law as SeaWorld’s policy appears murky

Advocates push orca breeding law as SeaWorld’s policy appears murky

The announcement was rolled out to the world as a pledge. A promise.In March 2016 SeaWorld declared it would end killer whale breeding, making the orcas in its care in the United States and abroad its last generation to live in captivity.Later that y...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Atlanta airport power outage cancels 1,000 flights; more Delta cancellations Monday

Atlanta airport power outage cancels 1,000 flights; more Delta cancellations Monday

ATLANTA — A sudden power outage brought the world’s busiest airport to a standstill Sunday, grounding more than 1,000 flights in Atlanta just days before the start of the Christmas travel rush. Authorities announced that electricity would be restored...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs-Falcons: Things to watch in Monday’s 8:30 p.m. game

Bucs-Falcons: Things to watch in Monday’s 8:30 p.m. game

TAMPA — The Bucs and Falcons have each won three straight games on Monday nights as they face each other on a national platform tonight at Raymond James Stadium.How can Tampa Bay continue its streak and stop Atlanta’s? It won’t be easy, but given the...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Bitcoin futures begin trading on CME, price little changed

NEW YORK — Another security based on the price of bitcoin, the digital currency that has soared in value and volatility this year, began trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Sunday. The CME Group, which owns the exchange, opened up bitcoin f...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Woman shot and killed in apparent drive-by shooting in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — A woman was shot to death Sunday night in an apparent drive-by shooting, according to Clearwater police.Authorities said they received an initial call at 8:19 p.m. originating from 800 Belleair Road. The shooting is believed to have occu...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden — why was he fired to begin with?

Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden — why was he fired to begin with?

TAMPA — The beers and the "love ya, bros" were flowing Saturday night at the Hooters in Tampa. Jon Gruden, who will be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor at halftime of tonight’s home game against the Falcons, worked the room, greeting family, frie...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Fennelly: Jon Gruden was one hard-working bro

Fennelly: Jon Gruden was one hard-working bro

TAMPA — It’s ridiculous that it took this long to give Jon Gruden a night all his own, given the nights he gave Bucs fans. But it will happen this evening at Raymond James Stadium, a salute to the thermonuclear source of that Super Bowl season, that ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Massachusetts rolls 100-foot-long joint; McCain likely to miss tax bill vote; Cherokee Nation’s fear of losing heritage drives opioid lawsuit; more in U.S. news

Massachusetts rolls 100-foot-long joint; McCain likely to miss tax bill vote; Cherokee Nation’s fear of losing heritage drives opioid lawsuit; more in U.S. news

Massachusetts Rolling a fat one — 100 feet longMarijuana aficionados have rolled a 100-foot-long joint. The effort was led by Boston-based cannabis club and advocacy group Beantown Greentown during an exhibition of pro-marijuana vendors and supporter...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday that he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller even as his administration was again forced to grapple with the growing Russia inquiry that has shadowed the White House for much of his ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Friendly competition

Friendly competition

 
Updated: 8 hours ago