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Seminole Mall owners ask for help in any possible contamination cleanup

SEMINOLE — In yet another indication that changes are in sight for Seminole Mall, the property's owners are asking the city for its support in clearing up any contamination that might be on the site.

The Seminole council is scheduled to consider passing a resolution at its Tuesday meeting urging the state to grant brownfields designation to the mall. The designation does not mean the site is contaminated; it means the property may be contaminated or merely have the perception of contamination, according to the Florida Brownfields Association. In the mall's case, the possibility of contamination is the result of a gas station and a dry cleaner that were once on the property, said Mark Ely, the city's development director.

The value of the designation lies in opening up benefits for the property owner. Those include tax credits, protection from liability and access to state and federal grant monies for any cleanup that's needed.

Ely agreed the move indicates that the mall owners are serious about redeveloping the property.

"It does sound like it's the next step in the evolution of their redesign process," he said.

That redesign has been a long time coming.

The mall, on the northeast corner of Park Boulevard and 113th Street N, was built in the mid 1960s. The 425,292-square-foot mall functioned as Seminole's downtown and for a long time was a bustling shopping mecca for locals. But recently financial woes have hit with smaller stores closing. More recently, two of the anchors, Kmart and Publix, departed. Kmart closed and Publix moved across the street to a former Albertsons.

Last year, Seminole Mall LP bought the property for $14.6 million. Last month, Seminole Office LP bought the two office buildings on the northwest edge of the mall property at 7997 and 7999 113th St. N for about $1.98 million.

Both Seminole Mall LP and Seminole Office LP are run out of the Palm Beach office of North American Development Group, a multinational corporation that specializes in the development, redevelopment and management of shopping centers. The office property is planned to be part of a revamped mall.

It's unclear when that will happen. Representatives from Primerica Group One have said an architect has been hired, and they hope to have preliminary ideas to run by the city by the end of the year. Primerica Group One has partnered with mall owner Seminole Mall LP and Primerica Developments, a Tampa-based company whose primary focus is on the development or redevelopment of shopping centers, to redevelop the property.

But any teardown might not happen until late 2014 or early 2015. Roger Edelman, president of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce, which is lodged in one of the two newly purchased office buildings, said his organization's lease isn't up until Feb. 28, 2015.

Edelman said he has met with mall owners and thinks they understand the special place it has in Seminole's business and social community. Although many ideas have been tossed around as part of casual conversations, Edelman said developers aren't being specific about what they have in mind. But Edelman said he's guessing they'll do something like the Shoppes at Park Place in Pinellas Park, Largo Mall or Clearwater Mall.

All those have stores around the perimeter, allowing shoppers to park close to their destination.

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

Seminole Mall owners ask for help in any possible contamination cleanup 11/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 8, 2013 2:39pm]
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