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Safety Harbor officials to discuss stalled spa land deal in closed-door meeting

SAFETY HARBOR — City commissioners will hold a closed-door meeting Monday to discuss stalled negotiations with the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa over the price for spa property that the city wants to buy.

City officials said this week that the two entities are almost $500,000 apart. Cancelling the purchase is an option, but is one the city had hoped to avoid.

"There's a gap," Mayor Andy Steingold confirmed Friday. "There's no finality. The negotiations are still up in the air."

The city has signed a contract with the spa's owner, Olympia Development Group, to purchase 13 acres of the spa's bayfront land for $3.3 million. But the agreement was contingent on a survey and appraisal.

When the land was surveyed, the city learned the parcel has more wetlands than originally thought, and wetlands were valued at a substantially lower square foot price in the contract.

Then an appraisal of the property came back with a value of $1.9 million — more than a million dollars less than the contract price. The contract gave the city the right to reopen negotiations if there was a low appraisal, but so far, the city and spa owners have not agreed on a price.

The property the city wants to buy is located between the spa, a historic landmark at Bayshore Boulevard and Main Street, and the shore of Old Tampa Bay. It extends northward from the city marina to Mullet Creek and is undeveloped.

The city's effort to buy the land is part of a financial restructuring plan being overseen by a federal bankruptcy judge to pay off the resort's creditors and pull the spa out of bankruptcy.

At Monday's 6 p.m. closed-door session, commissioners are expected to give the city negotiating team direction on what to do next.

Steingold said he's hopeful the two sides will be able to break through the logjam and come to agreement on a price that would be fair to the spa and fair to the public.

"I think it would be to the mutual benefit of both sides for the purchase to occur," he said.

Safety Harbor officials to discuss stalled spa land deal in closed-door meeting 11/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 11, 2011 7:32pm]

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