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Homeless mission moving from Pinellas Park to St. Petersburg

Officials and neighbors in Pinellas Park have less than a week before one of their wishes comes true: The Suncoast Haven of Rest is going away.

Not only will it no longer be on Park Boulevard, it won't even be in the city. It's moving to St. Petersburg.

The Haven of Rest bought the approximately 0.71 acres at 1763 Ninth Ave. N for $260,000 on March 7, according to records from the Pinellas County Property Appraiser's Office. The property appraiser estimates the parcel, which is zoned for light manufacturing, is worth about $194,000. It's also about half a mile from the Center of Hope operated by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which offers services to the homeless, including housing and a feeding program, at 401 15th St. N.

The Rev. Lionel Cabral, who runs the mission, confirmed it is moving to the new location. With the move will come other changes, he said, but he declined to provide details, saying he did not want people to come to the St. Petersburg address until it is open for business.

The Haven of Rest is a nonprofit corporation that mainly provides food for the homeless and the working poor. Much of that food is delivered to homeless shelters, such as Project Hope and Safe Harbor. But families and others drive in to pick up boxes of food. And other homeless come for meals, services and meetings that are held daily.

It's the homeless who hang around waiting for meals and meetings who have caused the most friction with neighbors. Complaints include loud, vulgar language and trespassing on nearby properties.

The constant complaints have irked Pinellas Park officials. But they were also frustrated by the sight of the mission on Park Boulevard — the middle of Pinellas Park's redevelopment area on one of its main thoroughfares.

City Council members voted late last year to spend $370,000 plus an estimated $5,140 in closing costs for the mission's properties at 5625 and 5663 Park Blvd.

They also voted to buy the other eight lots on the block, which sits on the north side of Park between 56th and 57th streets. The idea was to create a project that would not only enhance the area but would also draw businesses and homeowners into the redevelopment area by showcasing its potential. They've spent about $650,000 to buy all but three of the other properties. Those landowners, who include Pinellas Park council member Rick Butler, have declined to sell.

The council also agreed to spend $140,000, plus about $1,943 in 2012 property taxes, for 0.19 acres at 5705 Park, in the block immediately to the west of the mission's location. Pinellas Park has already torn down that building.

Current plans are to use that lot for a public and neighborhood park, city spokesman Tim Caddell said. Some business owners have asked about the other block, he said, but officials are waiting until all the sold properties are vacant before settling on final plans.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450.

Homeless mission moving from Pinellas Park to St. Petersburg 03/26/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 5:12pm]
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