Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former nursery property in Tarpon could become senior housing

A 125-unit affordable apartment complex for seniors moved closer to reality after a county vote. The owners had closed a nursery and florist business on their 55-acre parcel in Tarpon Springs.


A 125-unit affordable apartment complex for seniors moved closer to reality after a county vote. The owners had closed a nursery and florist business on their 55-acre parcel in Tarpon Springs.

TARPON SPRINGS — A proposed apartment complex aimed at helping with a shortage of affordable housing for seniors has moved closer to reality after Pinellas County commissioners approved zoning, land use and density bonus changes.

The commission's 5-1 vote last week gives John and Bonnie Mills — who for 22 years operated Snowden's Nursery and a florist business on a 55-acre property they co-own at 1800 Alt. U.S. 19 — carte blanche to find a developer who wants to buy the parcel from the couple and build the project.

Envisioned as a 125-unit complex that would have five to six stories of apartments over parking and cater to the 55-plus crowd, John Mills acknowledged that the final project might not be limited to senior housing.

However, Mills said he has already been in talks with several potential buyers who have expressed interest in that use, especially given the growing waiting list for Santos Isle, another Tarpon Springs affordable complex for seniors.

He said several developers had also cited a need for veterans housing and his parcel's ideal location near Florida Hospital North Pinellas.

But Mills said he believes there's "a very good chance" that the final product will be senior housing. Mills, who has lived in Tarpon Springs since 1972, said he is in "no huge hurry" to sell to a developer.

"Affordable housing makes a lot of people uncomfortable," Mills said. "But we're certainly not going to put something out there that we don't feel is good for the community. It's very important to us that whatever ends up out there is good for Tarpon."

The proposal had sparked controversy among neighbors, 88 of whom signed a petition saying they feared the project would endanger wetlands on the property and bring noise and traffic.

Commissioner Norm Roche, who cast the lone vote against the rezoning, was unavailable Tuesday for comment.

Commissioner Susan Latvala was absent from last week's county meeting.

But Mills said the plan to build on only 4 acres of the parcel's 55 acres means the wetlands won't be disturbed. And he argued that a residential community will generate less traffic than the previous nursery business that operated on the site.

The eventual developer must make at least 20 percent of the units affordable housing or lose the density bonus, according to Mills and his attorney, Ed Armstrong.

The entrance would be on Alt. U.S. 19. The developer would not be allowed to provide access through the nearby Grassy Pointe subdivision, Mills said.

Mills, who said he has participated in several small real estate development projects in Pinellas since the 1970s, said he and his wife always knew they would close up their Tarpon businesses and develop the property. The businesses closed in 2003.

However, the couple isn't going far.

They plan to move a century-old home on their property, which they believe operated as a bed and breakfast in the 1920s and 1930s, to a 2-acre parcel adjacent to the Tarpon Springs municipal golf course.

The older home would serve as a guest house, while the couple would live in a new home they would build beside it.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or To write a letter to the editor, go to

Former nursery property in Tarpon could become senior housing 02/18/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 4:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.