Monday, January 22, 2018
News Roundup

With Walmart's riverfront property for sale, Tarpon Springs considers options

TARPON SPRINGS — After causing years of hand-wringing by residents and environmental groups, Walmart has finally decided to put its 74-acre riverfront property up for sale.

The property, thought to be home to bald eagles, gopher tortoises and sandhill cranes, is listed at $8.5 million.

"We've had several national homebuilders looking at it," said Daniel Earles, the real estate broker representing Walmart. "We want someone who will be responsible and sensitive to the environment and what is there."

Walmart's decision to market the property comes almost five years after the retail giant abandoned its plans to build a supercenter on the scenic site. Instead, Walmart opened a store in the former Kmart on U.S. 19.

Walmart's decision not to build on the tree-covered property overlooking the Anclote River seemed to be a concession, at least in part, to residents who for years fought the project with protests and lawsuits and passionate City Commission testimonies that lasted late into the night.

But it also left city leaders and residents wondering what would become of the parcel, which is on the east side of U.S. 19 along the south bank of the river.

"There is still this big question mark," said project opponent Dory Larsen, who is married to City Commissioner Jeff Larsen but said her opinions are her own. "Did we work this hard to see homes go on it? I hope not."

For the city, the options for proceeding are few.

Commissioners have limited control over transactions between private businesses, and Tarpon Springs isn't positioned to buy the park without a significant outside contribution, City Manager Mark LeCouris said at a recent meeting, adding that the city can't afford to put up any more than $1.5 million.

"The city has continued being involved and being open to anything," LeCouris said. "But nobody is coming forward with any cash to make this thing happen."

One likely outcome is that the property will attract a homebuilder or other developer who will have to get site plans approved in a public hearing.

Under current zoning, the land could be used for restaurants or retail establishments that follow city code, but a developer would need a zoning change to build homes.

The property's wildlife and its position on a protected waterway make it complicated to develop. A builder would have to stay at least 100 feet from the bald eagle's nest, even with a special permit, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Roughly half of the property is thought to be buildable.

That's why Friends of the Anclote River and other environmental groups hope Walmart may eventually discount the property and strike a deal with the city, which could build a park and name it after Walmart founder Sam Walton.

"Walmart is trying to come around as a more family-friendly and community-friendly company," said Peter Dalacos, a former commissioner and member of Friends of the Anclote River. "Now is the opportunity for the next step of community goodwill."

Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4155. To write a letter to the editor, visit or mail to the Tampa Bay Times, 1130 Cleveland St., Suite 100A, Clearwater, FL 33755.

Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

PHILADELPHIA — Not even a coat of Crisco on light poles across the city could keep Philadelphia Eagles fans from scaling new heights in celebrating their team’s first Super Bowl appearance in 13 years and setting up a rematch with the AFC champion N...
Updated: 20 minutes ago

Hooper: Deal with sea-level rise or prepare to be inundated

When fans again flock to Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard for the annual Gasparilla Festival on Saturday, I hope they ask a question: Will the floats need flotation devices in 2035?Erika Spanger-Siegfried, Astrid Caldas and Kate Cell, members of the Union ...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Forecast: Warm weather remains, but cold front will bring rain to Tampa Bay

Forecast: Warm weather remains, but cold front will bring rain to Tampa Bay

A warm weekend across Tampa Bay will carry over into the start of the workweek, after some morning fog burns off and before a front results in clouds and increased rain chances later this afternoon.10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa...
Updated: 1 hour ago

The Daystarter: PolitiFact Florida analyzes prison costs; breaking down the Super Bowl matchup; free dental clinic services in high demand; Arrrrr you ready for Gasparilla?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• We’ll have a mild and sunny start to the week, with highs in the upper 70s, according to 10Weather WTSP. A weak cold front brings a chance of rain on Tuesday and slightly coo...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Police: 2 IEDs detonated at a Florida mall, no injuries

LAKE WALES — Police say two improvised explosive devices ignited inside a mall in central Florida on Sunday do not appear to be an act of terrorism.Lake Wales police Deputy Chief Troy Schulze tells news outlets that at 5:22 p.m., the Lake Wales Fire ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
PolitiFact Florida: Claims about prison price-gouging decry $17 soup, $18 tampons

PolitiFact Florida: Claims about prison price-gouging decry $17 soup, $18 tampons

Advocates of Florida prisoners protested outside of the Florida Department of Corrections in Tallahassee on Tuesday, demanding answers to questions of alleged price-gouging in prisons across the state.Protesters from dozens of grass roots organizatio...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

CHICAGO — It didn’t take the sound of a door slamming in the visitor’s dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay believed it had worked hard against the Wild — at least, harder than it did in Thursday’s letharg...
Updated: 8 hours ago

nationResearchers work to avoid another 1918 super-flu The descriptions are haunting. Some victims felt fine in the morning and were dead by night. Faces turned blue as patients coughed up blood. Stacked bodies outnumbered coffins. A century after on...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Hillsborough diver who died in Eagle’s Nest Cave was adventurous but experienced

Davin Brannon was a pilot, a spearfisherman, an avid cave and open-water diver and an experienced all-around adventurer, said those close to him ."I guess you could say he died doing what he loved," his cousin Pam Kirven said. "But I also know he’d n...
Updated: 9 hours ago
‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

LOS ANGELES — The Western-inspired revenge tale Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri swept the female-focused and led Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday with wins for best ensemble, best actress for Frances McDormand and best supporting actor for...
Updated: 9 hours ago