TAMPA — City Hall is getting close to deals to bring a new hotel and apartment complex to two sites in Ybor City.
The hotel site is at the northeast corner of Nick Nuccio Parkway and E Seventh Avenue, the gateway to the historic district.
Tampa-based Liberty Group offered $650,000 — a little less than the appraised value — for about a third of a block the city owns at the corner.
Liberty proposes to develop an $11.3 million hotel with 70 guest rooms and suites, interior lap pool, ground-floor lounge and rooftop bar.
About a half-mile away, the apartment site consists of about half a block the city owns just south of Interstate 4 between N 16th and 17th streets.
A partnership between the Intown/Framework Group and Forge Capital Partners, both based in Tampa, is offering $660,000 for the land. It proposes a $27 million project with 220 units and a brick-and-tall-window design inspired by Ybor City's historic cigar factories.
City officials hope to reach agreements on both projects within the next couple of weeks. But first they have to nail down a few key points before taking sales agreements to the City Council.
"We're pretty close," Tampa economic opportunity administrator Bob McDonaugh said Tuesday. "It makes a lot more sense trying — prior to entering into a contract — to work out all the details."
The city had inquiries about both properties, but because they are in the Ybor City community redevelopment area, officials had to issue an open request for proposals before moving to sell either parcel.
The invitation went out in December and responses came back in January. Details of the proposals became public this month after a 30-day waiting period.
Two development groups submitted proposals for the hotel site.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in a recent interview he understood that the Liberty Group's proposal was "much, much better."
McDonaugh said Liberty's proposal had more detail than the competing bid, with a site plan, floor plans, development time line, project budget, architectural renderings and a development team with an identified general contractor.
Then there's the price.
On one hand, Liberty's offer of $650,000 was more than twice the other bid. On the other, Liberty's offer was less than the land's appraised value of $690,000.
McDonaugh said two factors mitigate accepting an offer "marginally below" the appraised price. First, the offer is within 6 percent of the appraised price. Also, he said Liberty's time line envisions "a relatively quick close and aggressive completion and opening schedule," which would mean the land would soon start generating property taxes.
Liberty specializes in hotel investment, development and management, with $300 million in assets in the United States and Europe. Its president and chief operating officer, Punit Shah, is a partner in a $14 million project to transform the old Mercantile Bank building into an Aloft boutique hotel overlooking the Hillsborough River.
Shah also is a partner in a group seeking to acquire a lease for the Channelside Bay Plaza retail complex.
Originally, Liberty said its Ybor City project would be a Hotel Indigo, a boutique brand of the InterContinental Hotels Group, whose flagship is Holiday Inn.
It has since indicated to the city that the hotel might have another brand.
In response, McDonaugh has asked Liberty to confirm its intentions to build a hotel similar in design and materials to the rendering in its proposal.
"We want to make sure that what they say in the proposal is what they deliver to us," Buckhorn said.
McDonaugh also wants to know the hotel's brand. Considering that Liberty may need to negotiate with several hotels to determine which flag is most appropriate, McDonaugh said he would be willing to agree to a list of three or four specific brands, assuming they're of acceptable quality.
The city rejected a proposal from YC Hospitality LLC, a partnership between South Florida developers Neal Margo and Arnold Gitten.
Margo and Gitten proposed a 118-room hotel and offered to pay the city $285,000 for its land.
For its land near I-4, the city received one proposal.
The Intown/Framework Group, a partnership between Tampa developers Greg Minder and Phillip A. Smith, first offered $350,000 for the city's half-block along E 12th Avenue.
In response, city officials said there was much to like about the Intown/Framework proposal, but rejected the price.
After McDonaugh said the sales price would have to be at least $660,000, the appraised value of the land, the developers increased their offer to that.
Minder and Smith, who also have received city approval for a 36-story apartment tower near the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, plan to build a parking garage with about 368 spaces as part of the Ybor City apartment project.