Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo mayor unimpressed by developer's offer of rental space

LARGO — Developer John Hopengarten thinks he has a solution to the city's data center problem. Mayor Pat Gerard disagrees.

The data center is expected to cost $3 million. That's $1 million more than originally projected. Last month, Gerard criticized the staff for underestimating how much it would cost to design and build the 3,000-square-foot building that will house the city's computer servers. It's scheduled to be built early next year near the Largo Public Library.

The data center is needed, the staff says, because the servers' current home on the second floor of City Hall is inadequate. City Hall might not survive a Category 1 hurricane, leading to potentially crippling losses of computer-dependent services — such as emergency dispatch — during a bad storm. The new data center will be built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

Hopengarten is a Largo resident and owner of Westchase Group, a local real estate development company behind a planned two-story office building at 701 Highland Ave., just north of City Hall. He came to Tuesday's commission meeting to make a sales pitch. Instead of building your own data center, he said, why not rent space in my new building?

Hopengarten would ask the city to pay for upgrading his building, which he is not constructing until he has tenants, to withstand a Category 5 storm. But even with that $350,000 expense, according to Hopengarten's estimates, renting space in his building would still save the city about $1 million.

"I could offer them nearly twice the space for about two-thirds the price," Hopengarten said. "It'd essentially become a built-to-suit for them."

Commissioner Curtis Holmes, who met with Hopengarten a week or so before Tuesday's meeting, said Tuesday night that he wanted to schedule a full presentation from Hopengarten.

The rest of the commission was not as enthused.

"Obviously his comments were a bit self-serving, since he has this building ... and he doesn't have tenants yet," said Gerard, who clarified after the meeting that she has no problem exploring data center alternatives, but the city would need to put out a request for proposals to let others express interest.

"We can't just look at his proposal and not do an RFP (request for proposals); that's not how we do business," Gerard said.

Assistant City Manager Henry Schubert said the staff will review Hopengarten's proposal and give analysis and a recommendation to commissioners.

Holmes was miffed that his colleagues so quickly dismissed what he thought was a good idea.

"This man is building a building in Largo that the city will get property tax income from. Why would you blow him off like that?" he said. "In my opinion, it's a very viable plan."

Gerard was not as swayed by Hopengarten's proposal.

"He didn't make any points that compelled me," she said.

Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or whobson@tampabay.com. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Largo mayor unimpressed by developer's offer of rental space 12/08/12 [Last modified: Saturday, December 8, 2012 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. St. Pete qualifying ends. Seven for mayor. Eight for District 6 on primary ballot

    Blogs

    The smiles of the faces of the workers in the City Clerk’s office said it all. The qualifying period for city elections was almost over.

    City Clerk Chan Srinivasa (2nd left) and Senior Deputy City Clerk  Cathy Davis (1st left) celebrate the end of qualifying period with colleagues on Friday afternoon
  2. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.
  3. Registered sexual predator charged in assault of woman in Brooksville

    Public Safety

    Times Staff Writer

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County deputies arrested a registered sexual predator Thursday after they say he attempted to assault a woman and fled into a storm drain.

    Lee Roy Rettley has been charged with attempted homicide, attempted sexual battery and home invasion robbery.
  4. Honda denies covering up dangers of Takata air bags

    Autos

    With just a third of the defective Takata air bag inflators replaced nationwide, the corporate blame game of who will take responsibility — and pay — for the issue has shifted into another gear.

    Honda is denying covering up dangers of Takata air bags. | [Scott McIntyre, New York Times]
  5. Former CEO of Winn-Dixie parent joining Hong Kong company

    News

    The former CEO of the Jacksonville-based parent of Winn-Dixie grocery stores, Ian McLeod, has landed a new leadership role in Hong Kong. He is joining the pan-Asian based Dairy Farm International Holdings Ltd. as group chief executive.

    Ian McLeod, who is stepping down as the CEO of the parent company of Winn-Dixie, has been hired by Dairy Farm International Holdings. 
[Photo courtesy of Southeastern Grocers]