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Zoning change could bring hotel, grocery store to Bay Pines area

SEMINOLE — A hotel, grocery store and offices could be coming to the site of the former Bay Pines Mobile Home Park if the city grants a request for a zoning change.

RC Properties IV, which owns the approximately 60 acres, wants to change the zoning from residential to commercial only on the southern half of the property. The zoning on the northern 30 acres would remain residential so that 523 apartments, condos, or townhouses could be built.

The site at 1005 Bay Pines Blvd. is for sale. It is unclear whether the request for a zoning change is designed to make the property more attractive to buyers in general, RC Properties has a specific buyer for the land, or RC wants to develop the land itself.

"We haven't been notified that there's a third party … that would come forward" if the change is granted, Seminole community development director Mark Ely said.

Ely said the city is negotiating an agreement with RC that would require the construction of a hotel and an upscale restaurant should the zoning change be granted. Seminole has long wanted a hotel and a "fine dining" restaurant somewhere in the city.

The Bay Pines property would be perfect, Ely said, because there is no hotel nearby. And it would be across from the Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which serves more than 95,000 patients a year. Many of those patients or their families would use a hotel across the street, Ely said.

"The volume of bodies going through that place is unbelievable and they're adding to the campus," Ely said.

The construction of a mixed-use development on the property would end a saga that began four years ago when developer John Loder's Bay Pines LP bought the property for $38.5 million from the E.J. Bickley Trust.

At the time, the park had 550 oak-shaded mobile homes that housed hundreds of elderly residents. Loder planned to build 800 townhomes.

Some of the residents sued to stop the sale. They were unsuccessful, but the lawsuit is still winding its way through the court system. By the end of the year, the residents were gone and, the next year, the park was razed.

Loder bought the property at the height of the land boom and was left with a pile of dirt when the real estate market collapsed. He lost it in a foreclosure action filed in 2008, and the title was transferred to RC Properties.

RC put the land on the market last year for $19 million, substantially less than Loder paid, but more than the $13 million the Pinellas County Property Appraiser estimated it was worth. The Property Appraiser has since reduced the land's estimated value to about $9.2 million.

Reach Anne Lindberg at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450.

Zoning change could bring hotel, grocery store to Bay Pines area 04/13/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 4:35pm]
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