Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cover story

Pinellas child services board pays off tenant to move out

PINELLAS PARK — A countywide board that oversees children's services has a problem that many landlords face — how to get rid of a tenant.

For the Juvenile Welfare Board, the answer was simple, if irksome: Pay the tenant to go away.

So last week JWB board members voted to write a $140,000 check to WorkNet Pinellas.

In return, WorkNet has said it will be out of the JWB building at 4140 49th St. N by Oct. 31.

If WorkNet runs into a snag, it would have an additional 45 days to vacate the building. A WorkNet board's vote to accept the deal would conclude months of negotiations between the two agencies.

WorkNet Pinellas signed a three-year lease with the JWB in April 2005. The lease contained a clause allowing WorkNet to extend the term through April 2010 if it chose.

JWB executive director Gay Lancaster called WorkNet in January 2007 to tell officials there that her board had voted to sell the building and other JWB property.

Lancaster asked what WorkNet would need in order to vacate the building. WorkNet reportedly said it wanted six months' notice.

Sometime last summer, the R'Club offered $2.5-million for the building but said it had to be vacant before the sale took place. JWB passed the information to WorkNet.

"They know we've had that contract probably for a year," said Cindy Bell, director of facilities management for JWB. "We've given them plenty of notice."

But instead of packing up, WorkNet sent the JWB a letter in December saying it wanted to exercise its option of extending the contract until the end of April 2010.

Bill Griffiths, the WorkNet spokesman, did not return a phone message asking for comment.

Lancaster and others at JWB were stunned at the news. They immediately began negotiating to get WorkNet out of the building so the R'Club could buy it. Lancaster told JWB board members last week that it appears the two agencies have finally reached a deal.

JWB board members were not only irked by WorkNet's actions, they also questioned the origin of the lease. The board had never approved it even though it involved a lot of money — $237,500 a year in rent for the first three years and a slight increase if WorkNet exercised the option.

Lancaster told board members that the JWB's former executive director, Jim Mills, had signed many contracts without board approval. That's something, Lancaster said later, that has changed since she took over. The JWB board now has a rule that it must approve any contract in excess of $25,000.

Pinellas child services board pays off tenant to move out 07/22/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 24, 2008 3:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Today: Scientology to film mock FBI raid on downtown building

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology will be filming a mock FBI raid on its downtown campus Monday at 3 p.m., according to the Clearwater Police Department.

    According to Clearwater Police, the Church of Scientology plans to hold a mock FBI raid at 3 p.m. Monday at this vacant building at 305 N Fort Harrison Ave. Police announced the raid in advance to alert the public. They said they did not know the reason for the event. [Google Earch image]
  2. Ranking Malik Zaire among 2017's top transfer quarterbacks


    The Florida Gators' Malik Zaire is among many transfers who could become starters at their new school. Here's how he stacks up in our rankings of top transfer quarterbacks:

  3. Video shows giant humpback whale breaching right off side of boat


    A man filmed a whale breaching really close to his boat in a video that has gone viral.

    A giant whale breached right next to a boat in the waters off New Jersey last week. It was captured on video.
  4. Lightning re-sign Yanni Gourde to two-year, one-way deal


    Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fightning to stay in pro hockey.

    Yanni Gourde seized his moment with six goals in 20 games as a callup last season.
  5. Next up in Bucs renovations? A $20 million indoor practice facility


    Renderings of the Bucs' new indoor practice facility (Courtesy of the Bucs)