Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hoping for new development, Largo is selling off city property downtown

LARGO — The big vacant lot has tall grass, an assortment of oaks and pines, a bit of crumbling blacktop, and what seems like a billion dragonflies.

The city is selling the nearly 1-acre lot at 158 Ridge Road near the northeast corner of Clearwater-Largo Road and West Bay Drive in its ongoing effort to revitalize downtown.

The parcel is one of several pieces of city-owned land that Largo has put on the market, hoping that new residential and commercial development will complement the smattering of shops and eateries already open along that section of West Bay Drive.

"Our goal is to get these properties into the hands of developers who are going to bring projects to our downtown," said Teresa Brydon, Largo's economic development manager.

Commissioners voted last week to accept an offer from Urban Edge Development, which will pay $144,000 for the property — about a sixth of what Largo paid for it.

The company plans to build a modern, 24-unit apartment complex at the site, which is just north of the aging Oak Alley Apartments on West Bay.

The market-rate apartments are to be two-bedroom, two-bathroom units with open floor plans and high ceilings. The hope is that the new apartments will attract tenants from nearby employment hubs including the Pinellas County School District headquarters and Largo Medical Center.

The property is the former site of the Stepping Stone house for the homeless. The city bought it in 2007 for $850,000 and demolished the blighted structures on it. The city put it on the market last year, seeking $249,000.

The city's downtown holdings consist of 27 parcels acquired over the years — some as far back as 1953. The city has divided it into five sites.

When Brydon came to city commissioners in 2011 with a strategy for selling the West Bay land, several expressed dismay at the money Largo would lose on the properties. Brydon agreed she wished the land had higher values, but added that the point of community redevelopment is not to make money, but to make vacant land productive.

Business leaders are pleased that private developers are finally showing interest in the city's land.

"I'm happy to hear about that Ridge Road property. The interest in this area is growing," said Tom Morrissette, president of the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce. "The goal is to make downtown more of an urban center, a destination."

The city's next priority downtown is to sell a full city block that it owns on the north side of the 500 block of West Bay Drive, next to the Barley Mow Brewing Co., which was formerly O'Houston's restaurant. The city bought the 1.14 acres in separate purchases in 2006 and 2007 for a combined $2.45 million.

The city is seeking a developer who will build a mixed-used project there — a blend of residential and commercial space, Brydon said.

These sites are part of a city strategy years in the making to get 5 acres of underproductive city-owned land along West Bay developed with active storefronts, offices or homes.

The city also owns the site of the former Largo Hotel near Seminole Boulevard and West Bay Drive. The crumbling 99-year-old building was demolished in 2007. Largo also owns the site of the old Community Center at 65 Fourth St. NW.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4151.

ast facts

City manager lauded

Largo commissioners gave City Manager Mac Craig high marks in his annual review Tuesday and voted to give him a 2.5 percent raise next year, the same as other Largo staffers.

Hoping for new development, Largo is selling off city property downtown 08/20/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 23, 2013 12:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84


    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General


    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  5. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest


    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.