Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

Orange Blossom Groves site, home of fruit and kitsch, for sale

SEMINOLE — One of the last remaining Pinellas County landmarks from the Florida of tourists and kitsch is on the market.

The former Orange Blossom Groves is for sale for $2.9 million for about 9.2 acres.

That includes five commercially zoned parcels totaling about 2.2 acres fronting the road at 5800 Seminole Blvd. The remaining 7 acres on the west side of the site is zoned residential.

Residents and tourists alike know the commercial portion of the property as the place where Al Repetto and a brother-in-law opened a business in 1946 selling oranges, fresh juice and orange ice cream. That business eventually grew into a multimillion-dollar-a-year operation with 350 employees and a second store in on U.S. 19 at Belleair Road in Clearwater.

The residential portion is undeveloped and contains the remains of one of the orange groves that Repetto used to supply his stores.

For about 60 years, Orange Blossom Groves, one of the biggest in the state, was a major draw for locals and tourists alike.

"It's historically important," said Sandy Hartmann, who is handling the sale of the property. "It's just one of the last pieces (of Old Florida). I think the history of it is the important part for locals."

But change happens, even if it's unwelcome, she said.

Tourists stopped shipping oranges up North. Citrus canker wiped out thousands of trees. Repetto, who had resisted the changes, gave in and retired. The Clearwater property was sold. Repetto died in July, and the Seminole property went to his daughters, who have decided to sell.

"It's just a family decision," Hartmann said.

Repetto's daughter Sandy Miller could not be reached for comment.

Hartmann said potential buyers have a choice: Purchase the entire 9.2 acres or take either the commercial or residential portion alone. The commercial land is $1.35 million; the residential property, $1.55 million.

The commercial parcel contains a 21,400-square-foot building with an office and a store. It's currently leased by Florida Citrus Country, based in Orlando.

"They would love to stay there," Hartmann said.

The residential portion is open for development. Under Seminole rules, up to 48 single-family detached homes would be allowed, said Mark Ely, head of Seminole's development department.

Ely said several potential buyers have contacted him about the city's flexibility in developing the land. Seminole, he said, would be open to negotiating a development agreement that could alter lot size and perhaps increase density. But the city "would not be supportive of rezoning the property to multifamily."

Anne Lindberg can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450.

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