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Flea market king plans to buy land for retail club site

PINELLAS PARK — Flea market king Hardy Huntley plans to buy the former Golden Lantern Mobile Home Park.

If all goes well, he will close on the property in November, said Peter Creighton, a spokesman for Huntley.

The now-vacant land is in the unincorporated area on the edge of Pinellas Park, just across Park Boulevard from Huntley's Wagon Wheel Flea Market.

Huntley doesn't plan to expand his flea market to the 19.74 acres. It will more likely become the location of a wholesale membership club like a Costco or Sam's, said Creighton.

Creighton declined to name the retailer, however, saying, "I don't believe you've heard of this" one.

Construction could start late next year.

"We feel it would be a nice improvement," Creighton said. "We're hoping to change this eyesore to something positive for the area."

The Golden Lantern was the site of 178 shabby mobile homes in January 2005 when then-owner Robert Keathley applied for a zoning and land-use change that would clear the way for construction of apartments, townhomes or condominiums and a small retail strip center.

Residents fought the move and, in 2006, most accepted a monetary settlement to drop their opposition to the zoning change.

The property was sold in November 2006 to Mas Verde Mobile Home Estates Inc. of Union City, Tenn., for about $4.8 million. The Pinellas County property appraiser estimates the current market value of the land at about $1.4 million.

Mas Verde never did anything with the property.

Now Huntley has asked the county to change the zoning to commercial. The request is scheduled to go before the County Commission for preliminary approval in November and final approval in January.

Huntley is well-known in Pinellas Park as the owner of the Wagon Wheel Flea Market, 7801 Park Blvd. He also owns the Mustang and Gunn Highway flea markets, as well as hundreds of acres of undeveloped land in the bay area.

Part of that is 185 acres in the Gateway Centre area on the opposite side of Pinellas Park from the Wagon Wheel and Golden Lantern. It includes commercial frontage on heavily traveled U.S. 19 and Gandy Boulevard. Huntley bought it last year for an undisclosed amount from a lender that had taken it back from developer Grady Pridgen.

Reach Anne Lindberg at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450.

Flea market king plans to buy land for retail club site 08/28/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 27, 2010 6:14pm]
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