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Tampa to pay $1.5 million to assemble new park site in Channel District

TAMPA — City officials have long envisioned three parks in Tampa's booming Channel District — one on the south, one in the middle and one on the north.

The middle park came first with the creation three years ago of Washington Street Park at the corner of 12th Street.

The second one — a 400-foot-long landscaped courtyard on what used to be 11th Street — arrived last month with the completion of the new Pierhouse apartments.

And on Thursday, the City Council voted to acquire nearly nine-tenths of an acre for the third in the fast-growing northern end of the Channel District.

The site is coming in two pieces — one the city is buying for $1.56 million and a second the city will receive as a donation.

The owners of the property to be purchased, a little more than half an acre in all, are Robert C. Scott, Jeffrey J. Scott and James W. Scott, as well as Bruce E. Scott, Mark J. Scott and Gregory M. Scott as trustees of a trust with a half-interest in the property.

City administrator of economic opportunity Bob McDonaugh told the Council City that officials have been talking to the Scott family for nearly four years.

"I believe we have negotiated the best price that we can," he said. "It's a little bit higher than we wanted to pay."

The Scott family's property appraised in March at $950,000, or about $39 a square foot. The purchase price for just that land is about $64 per square foot. But when the donated land — slightly more than a third of an acre — is factored in, McDonaugh said the acquisition costs for the entire park site work out to about $40 per square foot, or close to the appraisal.

That was good enough for the council. Sitting as the city's Community Redevelopment Agency, it approved both transactions unanimously.

"I can recall when land in that area was very inexpensive 20 years ago. That has changed," said council Chairman Charlie Miranda, who added that values there probably will only go up. "If you don't buy property to have parks for the citizens that we want to bring in, to create things for the future, such as light rail, it's never going to happen. You must bite the bullet once in a while and say this is where I stand. This is a necessity."

The donated land is coming from a company controlled by developer Ken Stoltenberg's Mercury Advisors, which has city approval to build the 24-story Martin at Meridian tower next door.

"He certainly would like to have a park in the neighborhood," McDonaugh said.

Also surrounding the park site will be the Grand Central at Kennedy, Ventana condominiums and Bell Channelside apartments.

"All told, there's about 2,000 people that will surround this area for a park," McDonaugh said.

The next step, not yet scheduled, is to hold some meetings so residents can say what they want in the park.

McDonaugh said he's thought about the possibility of a more active use, like volleyball or basketball courts, but said plans will depend on what residents want.

Richard Danielson can be reached at (813) 226-3403, Danielson@tampabay.com or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.

Tampa to pay $1.5 million to assemble new park site in Channel District 10/10/13 [Last modified: Thursday, October 10, 2013 11:23pm]

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