TARPON SPRINGS — Voters will decide in March whether the city should sell its valuable nursing home property to a developer who wants to build an assisted living facility.
Commissioners confirmed this week that they want to sell 3.46 acres at 501 S Walton Ave. to Harry Burnard for $813,000.
Burnard, of Qualified Property Management in New Port Richey, said he wants to rehabilitate the property and turn it into an assisted living facility for people with Alzheimer's disease.
Although Burnard hoped the city would hold a vote in November so he could get moving on the project, the commission decided to wait until March to allow more time to draft a development agreement — which could require Burnard to pay damages if he doesn't build the facility as promised.
Commissioners' decision to sell the property is based in part on the services and jobs they hope the facility will provide. Burnard, who also owns assisted living facilities in Tarpon Springs and Seminole, said the renovated facility will have 100 beds for the city's aging population and create 60 to 100 jobs.
LeCouris said money from the nursing home sale could be used to redo the bathrooms at Craig Park or for a shelter area at the Tarpon Sports Complex.
Mayor David Archie, Vice Mayor Susan Slattery and Commissioner David Banther approved the project. Commissioner Townsend Tarapani was absent.
Commissioner Jeff Larsen voted no, arguing that the prime location of the lot, which is near downtown and several city buildings, makes it too valuable to sell to the wrong buyer. The city only considered one bid on the property, throwing out one other because the developer submitted the wrong kind of check.
Larsen also questioned Burnard's decision to renovate the property rather than demolish it and start over.
Although Burnard promised to gut the inside and install new ceilings, floors and appliances, Larsen said he is still concerned about mold and other health hazards.
The dank and vacant former nursing home was abandoned 10 years ago and is so dilapidated it has been a training ground for police SWAT teams and the set for low-budget horror films.
Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4155. To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters or mail letters to the Tampa Bay Times, 1130 Cleveland St., Suite 100A, Clearwater, FL 33755.