Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Floriland Office Center owner says no way to homeless shelter proposal

TAMPA — The owners of the former Floriland Mall have told Hillsborough County that they will not let it be used as homeless shelter.

George Heaton, manager of the office park's owner, Centermall LLC, left no room for negotiation in a letter to the county's real estate department, which leases a portion of the center.

"I am writing to you in order to save you from any unnecessary time, effort or expense that would result from this proposed change in use of the premises," Heaton wrote. "The landlord will not consent to the use of the premises as a homeless shelter as such use would be inappropriate in a project of this nature."

One of the two commissioners who hatched the idea last week said, as a result, the proposal is a no-go. Already it faced strong opposition from nearby neighbors, some of whom staged a protest outside County Center Wednesday.

"The owner has said no. The community has said no," Commissioner Al Higginbotham said. "So we don't go there. We look somewhere else."

Higginbotham and Commissioner Kevin White separately floated the idea during a meeting last week. Both had come under some heat for voting against a proposal from Catholic Charities to open a tent center for the homeless near east Tampa.

White did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Heaton's letter was penned the same day the commissioners put forth their Floriland proposal.

The county leases about 30,000 square feet at what is now called the Floriland Office Center on North Florida Avenue. The clerk of the circuit court has already vacated the property and is looking to break its lease, and Tax Collector Doug Belden is looking to do the same.

So White and Higginbotham suggested converting the empty space into temporary dormitory-style housing for the homeless. They reasoned that the property is centrally located and on major bus routes, and provides access to nearby social service agencies.

They also touted the notion that it was not adjacent to any neighborhoods.

But residents of Forest Hills and a nearby mobile home park pointed out that they are close by and already dealing with high crime rates that could get worse with an influx of homeless people. A majority of commissioners had indicated that they would be unwilling to try to force the issue if the property owner and nearby residents and business owners aren't interested.

Heaton's letter points out that the county leases specify that the property can be used only for governmental office use, and that no other use is permitted without the landlord's prior written consent.

Bill Varian can be reached at or (813) 226-3387.

Floriland Office Center owner says no way to homeless shelter proposal 10/28/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 10:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote


    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to


    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter


    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.