Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Springs City Commission refuses to rush into land sale

TARPON SPRINGS — They're eager for a deal on the city's most valuable property for sale, but city commissioners refused Tuesday night to rush negotiations over what one called "the big enchilada."

A developer has proposed purchasing the former nursing home at 501 S Walton Ave. — potentially worth millions of dollars — to convert it into an assisted living facility.

Since Tarpon Springs' charter requires voters' approval for large sales of city-owned property, the city could hurry to place a referendum on the ballot of the March municipal election. But to make that deadline, officials would have to skirt the regular process for a development agreement.

"I just don't see the need to jump into this thing and agree to a contract before we see any form of a site plan," said Commissioner Townsend Tarapani.

Still intrigued by the proposal, commissioners want to examine possible development options for the site. But they're going to slow the pace, first looking into getting the property appraised and opening it up for other prospective buyers.

The nursing home has sat vacant for eight years, so dilapidated that independent horror films have used it as a set and police SWAT teams have knocked holes in the walls during training exercises. The last tenant moved out in 2004 and let the building deteriorate, the city said, leading to a tangle of litigation over the broken lease.

The city estimates the nursing home could generate some $50,000 a year in property taxes. The Pinellas County Property Appraiser values the property at $2.1 million. It's a 4.4-acre parcel, but the city would likely retain an acre for parking uses.

Qualified Property Management, owned by Harry Burnard in New Port Richey, approached the city about purchasing the nursing home, even though the property hadn't been formally advertised for sale. The company runs other assisted living facilities, including Sunset Harbor in Tarpon Springs. It would buy the Walton Avenue property at fair market price to renovate for a 100-bed assisted living facility that would create 60 jobs.

But for commissioners, too much remained unexplored.

"I'm not convinced this is the right thing to do right now," said Vice Mayor Chris Alahouzos, "without approaching other buyers to make sure we're doing the right thing."

Without knowing the property's appraised worth, Mayor David Archie also backed away from drawing up a contract: "I am not comfortable with locking in on a figure (when) I don't know what it's going to be."

The rush to reach a referendum was reminiscent of the city's last-minute pondering last year over purchasing the Linger Longer mobile home park.

Tuesday, commissioners scrapped the push toward tight deadlines. But they stayed open to entertaining the idea of an assisted living facility.

Addressing the developer's representative, Tarapani said, "You here tonight, to me, is a window of opportunity."

Stephanie Wang can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or [email protected] To write a letter to the editor, go to

Tarpon Springs City Commission refuses to rush into land sale 10/17/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 7:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Forecast: Cold front on the way, but still upper 80s in Tampa Bay Sunday


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tampa Bay's heat is about to break, but Sunday will still see temperatures in the high 80s, meteorologists forecast.

    Tampa Bay should see temperatures in the upper 80s Sunday with a chance for showers late. [Courtesy 10News WTSP]
  2. Lutz driver dead after crash with semi on Dale Mabry Highway


    LUTZ — A 68-year-old driver died Saturday night in a crash with a semitrailer truck on Dale Mabry Highway, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  3. Toddler, 1, drowns in spa at birthday party in Trinity


    TRINITY — A toddler drowned at a birthday party Saturday evening and died at the hospital, authorities say, after his parents found him in a spa.

  4. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday


    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  5. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103