Thursday, April 26, 2018
News Roundup

Safety Harbor completes purchase of 13 waterfront acres

SAFETY HARBOR — City residents now own 13 acres on the Tampa Bay waterfront, following completion Wednesday of the city's long-delayed purchase of property from the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa.

"It's a landmark purchase for the city. I couldn't be happier," said City Manager Matt Spoor after attending the closing, adding that "150 years from now, someone will look back and say, 'Those people were pretty smart.' ''

The city paid the spa's owner, Olympia Development Group, $2.75 million for the undeveloped land behind the spa complex, which is on Bayshore Boulevard at Main Street. The purchased property extends from the city marina to Mullet Creek and includes both wetlands and uplands.

The land will be developed into a park, but not yet. For now, it remains fenced off from residents.

Spoor said the first improvement to the property likely will be a decorative fence to separate the city's property from the spa's land. For now, the city has no money in its capital improvement budget for developing the park. There is some money in next year's capital budget, but that doesn't take effect until Oct. 1, Spoor said.

The city expects to spend months developing a master plan for the acreage, Spoor said. Though the City Commission will have final approval, the public, city government and spa representatives will have input.

Spoor said the city is looking forward to a positive partnership with its neighbor, the spa. The city's purchase of the land will be a good thing for the spa, too, he said.

"Spa guests can walk right out their door and be in a city park," he noted.

However, the spa and city had some difficult negotiations. They initially disagreed over a fair price for the land, which is being sold as part of the spa's debt restructuring plan through federal bankruptcy court.

The two sides originally talked about a price of $3.3 million, then a new survey 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.

Some city commissioners believed $1.9 million was too low but that $2.9 million was too high. The city counter-offered $2.75 million, but didn't even get a response from Olympia Development and negotiations ended. Talks got back on track in December after the bankruptcy judge declared the city's offer a fair price for all parties.

Another delay was caused by discussions over two power poles that supply power to the spa complex. The poles were located on the land the city planned to buy and were expensive to move. The spa eventually agreed to move the poles at its own cost.

Diane Steinle can be reached at (727) 445-4184 or [email protected] To submit a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Comments
Hernando High student accused of threatening to shoot up school

Hernando High student accused of threatening to shoot up school

BROOKSVILLE — A 17-year-old Hernando High School student was arrested Wednesday for threatening to shoot people at the school, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.The student was serving a suspension at the time of the incident, deputie...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Details emerge in fiery crash that killed prominent Moffitt doctor

TEMPLE TERRACE — Investigators say an orange Dodge Charger was moving about 90 mph when it ran a red light and broadsided a prominent doctor’s car last month on Fowler Avenue. The impact caused Dr. Charles Canaan Williams’ Acura to...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Live blog: News, analysis, photos, more from the NFL draft

Live blog: News, analysis, photos, more from the NFL draft

Whether you're a fan of the Bucs, Gators, Seminoles, 'Canes or Bulls, you'll want to follow our live coverage of the 2018 NFL draft today through Saturday in Arlington, Tex. We'll have live news, commentary, photos, videos, stories and more, so come...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Pete police: Man who stole car with baby inside arrested

St. Pete police: Man who stole car with baby inside arrested

ST. PETERSBURG — A man accused of stealing a car with a baby inside earlier this week was arrested Thursday morning when officers spotted him in another stolen car, according to St. Petersburg police.Rashad Webb, 19, was arrested at about 2 a.m. afte...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and second degree burns

Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and second degree burns

TAMPA — A customer visited Wingstop on Sunday night to pick up his order. What happened next was off-menu:Robert Williams said he suffered second-degree burns on his back and legs after a Wingstop employee threw hot oil on him during a scuffle.Willia...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Amazon raising price of annual Prime membership to $119

Amazon raising price of annual Prime membership to $119

NEW YORK — Amazon is raising the price of its annual Prime membership fee by 20 percent starting next month. The company said Thursday that Prime members in the U.S. will now pay $119 a year, up from $99, starting May 11 for new members. The new pric...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Column: What Democrats can learn from Emmanuel Macron

Column: What Democrats can learn from Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron and President Donald Trump don’t agree on much. Macron is a globalist; Trump is a nationalist. Macron is a free-trader; Trump just imposed protectionist tariffs on steel and aluminum. Macron wants the United States to remain in Syria;...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Orioles, looking to make it a six-pack of W’s

For starters: Rays at Orioles, looking to make it a six-pack of W’s

UPDATE, 6:05: LHP Jonny Venters said he was touched and a bit overwhelmed by all the people the reached out to congratulate him on his return to the majors for the first time since 2012. … Cash said Matt Duffy (right hamstring strain) is set to...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bret Stephens: Bush 41, Trump, and American decline

Bret Stephens: Bush 41, Trump, and American decline

George H.W. Bush once vomited on the prime minister of Japan. It was a mortifying but innocent incident, the result of a nasty stomach bug. Donald Trump has spent the past couple of days effectively doing likewise on France’s Emmanuel Macron.What’s T...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Editorial: It’s up to Florida’s voters to restore felons’ civil rights now

The disappointing ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court should erase any doubt that the decision on restoring voting rights for felons rests solely on the conscience of Florida voters. A tortured ruling by the minimum majority of a three-judge ...
Updated: 2 hours ago