Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Safety Harbor cancels $2.9M land deal with Safety Harbor Spa and Resort

SAFETY HARBOR — City commissioners have decided to walk away from an agreement to buy waterfront land from the owner of the struggling Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, accusing Olympia Development Group of not negotiating in good faith.

Monday night the commission voted 4-1, with Mayor Andy Steingold dissenting, to cancel the deal to buy 13 acres on Old Tampa Bay for $2.9 million.

While commissioners were drawn to the idea of acquiring green space on the water for public use, most said they couldn't justify spending a million dollars more for the land than a recent appraisal showed it is worth.

Some also were concerned about future costs to maintain and improve the property. And some still were rankled that the city's purchase of the land would have come with certain usage restrictions insisted upon by the spa, a historic landmark on Bayshore Boulevard at Main Street.

"Why are we being told what to do with our own land?" Commissioner Nancy Besore asked Monday. "Are we going to be the groundskeepers?"

The spa is selling the undeveloped land, located between the resort and the shoreline, as part of a debt restructuring plan overseen by a federal bankruptcy judge. The judge had already approved the sale of the land to the city.

A sale price of $3.3 million was originally discussed by the city and spa owners, but that was before a new survey of the property showed less dry upland than previously thought, lowering the calculation of value to $2.9 million, contingent on an appraisal.

The appraiser placed the value at $1.9 million.

After seeing that number, the city made a counter offer of $2.75 million but didn't even get a response, officials said Monday. There are no negotiations under way now.

Commissioner Joe Ayoub argued that the city should just walk away from the agreement, saying, "We have only one willing party in this deal, and that can lead to overpaying."

Ayoub suggested waiting until the spa is anxious to cooperate, and said, "I don't think this will be our last bite at the apple."

Only Steingold pushed for the city to consider paying $2.9 million to get the property. He said it would be easy to justify spending the money to get undeveloped waterfront land that could be turned into parkland for future generations.

"I don't think you can put a price on green space," he said.

In other action Monday night, commissioners unanimously named Community Development Director Matt McLachlan as interim city manager. City Manager Matt Spoor announced last week that he will leave his post Jan. 8 to take a job as director of management and budget for the city of St. Petersburg.

Commissioners also agreed that the city would conduct its own search for a permanent city manager rather than hiring a professional search firm, and would follow Spoor's recommendation to wait until after the Jan. 31 city election to begin interviewing candidates for the job.

Within the next few weeks, the city will place advertisements seeking applicants.

"There are people locally who are going to be interested," Spoor told commissioners. "Very qualified individuals, I might add."

Diane Steinle can be reached at (727) 445-4152 or dsteinle@tampabay.com.

Safety Harbor cancels $2.9M land deal with Safety Harbor Spa and Resort 12/06/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 7:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.