TAMPA — WestShore Plaza, Tampa Bay's oldest mall, is getting a new owner.
Washington Prime Group Inc., a real estate investment trust based in Bethesda, Md., will acquire the Tampa mall and nearly two dozen others as part of a $4.3 billion deal to buy Glimcher Realty Trust of Ohio.
WestShore Plaza shoppers won't notice any changes — at least not in the foreseeable future....
In 2008, the New York Times "Breaking Ground'' column highlighted a luxury project set to get under way in downtown St. Petersburg.
Construction on the 28-story Grand Bohemian Hotel & Residences "is to begin this fall and be completed in 2010,'' the story said.
Four years later, there are no residences, no hotel and no signs of activity on one of the most desirable pieces of vacant land in the booming downtown. A proposed sale last year fell through, and the future remains unclear even as a South Florida developer pushes ahead with plans for a 13-story hotel and 41-story condo tower on a nearby block. ...
09/16/14 Human Interest
Sheila Maas hadn't even planned her husband's memorial service when she received a curt letter last week from the Social Security Administration.
"We are sorry to learn of your loss,'' the letter said, then got right to the point. She would have to pay back $227 in benefits that Joseph Maas had received for the month of August.
The reason? The 88-year-old Maas, who died at 6:25 p.m. on Aug. 31, hadn't lived through the full month so he wasn't entitled to the money....
09/13/14 Local Government
In January, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority agreed to pay $180,000 toward cleaning up soil and water contamination at the site of its former St. Petersburg bus depot.
The agreement with the site's current owner, Angelo's Aggregate Materials, was supposed to fully release the PSTA from any future environmental claims.
But because its legal staff failed to get the agreement in writing in January, the PSTA now finds itself potentially on the hook for thousands of dollars more in cleanup costs. ...
Ever since a Wright Brothers biplane touting "Vin Fiz" soft drinks took off in 1911, companies have recognized the merits of advertising by air.
Today, planes towing banners for everything from Verizon FIOS service to two-for-one drink specials are such a common sight that few folks think much about them until one crashes, as happened last weekend in St. Petersburg.
Donald Thomasson, 70, a pilot for Aerial Banners Inc., was killed when his banner-towing plane nose-dived into the water near Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg. It was the third fatality this summer in a niche segment of the advertising industry that has had more than 250 accidents in the past 25 years, but which continues to be an economical and effective way to reach the masses....
09/01/14 Real Estate
When Marcus Martin looks back on his years selling commercial real estate in Tampa, he's struck by how unusual that was.
"Maybe one time did I come across an African-American agent other than myself," the Florida State graduate says, "and never in the commercial ranks."
And while Martin, 38, has met other black Realtors since joining a St. Petersburg firm, he finds them "few and far between" in that city, too....
If you're thinking bad thoughts about a judge, it's best not to put them in a motion the judge will read.
That's the lesson being learned by Mark Stopa, one of Tampa Bay's best-known foreclosure defense lawyers.
The Florida Bar says Stopa "impugned the integrity" of a Polk County judge in a blistering motion that he dictated to an assistant but failed to read and remove "inappropriate language" before it was filed. ...
TAMPA — The Westin Harbour Island hotel and its popular restaurant, Jackson's Bistro, are being sold for $46.5 million to Blackstone, one of the world's largest real estate investment firms.
Owner Maurice Wilder said Friday that the sale, due to close Sept. 3, was prompted, in part, by his disgust with an ever-increasing number of federal regulations.
"It causes a lot more work, and you've got to have other people to take care of that," said Wilder, whose Clearwater-based Wilder Corp. also recently sold 28,000 acres of agricultural land in Texas....
08/21/14 Real Estate
ST. PETERSBURG — For the new owner of this glass house, there's no need to worry about people throwing stones: It's 34 stories up.
A stunning trilevel penthouse atop the downtown Signature Place, the Glasshouse condo that has prompted so many upward gazes has just hit the market for $3.2 million. That will buy you black-veined marble floors, custom finishes and expansive views through the floor-to-ceiling windows that give the 4,177-square-foot condo its name. ...
08/19/14 Local Government
Based on a glowing recommendation, Pinellas County commissioners in April unanimously appointed developer Roger Broderick to the board of a county agency that promotes affordable housing.
Broderick's experience will be "immensely beneficial'' to the Pinellas Housing Finance Authority, its executive director and chairman wrote in a memo to commissioners.
What the memo didn't say: Broderick owes nearly $90,000 in delinquent county property taxes. And he has more than two dozen properties in foreclosure, including land once slated for a county affordable housing project....
08/15/14 Real Estate
It's an ordinary Thursday in this Pinellas County beach community — except for the "Open House'' signs pointing crazily in all directions.
"This way, I think," real estate agent Julia Brazier says, steering her Lexus toward 176th Terrace and the first stop on her list, a three-bedroom, two-bath waterfront bungalow.
"It's purple!" Brazier exclaims.
Mermaids flank the baby pink front door, which opens into a fuchsia living room, which overlooks a large deck with bubble gum-pink railings....
With a bankruptcy and pending foreclosure, Christine Hansen would find it nearly impossible to buy a house or get a mortgage.
Yet Hansen, 49, is in line to become treasurer and eventual president of Florida Realtors, the powerful organization whose mission is to "advance Florida's real estate industry.''
Supporters say Hansen's financial problems should not preclude her from serving next year as volunteer treasurer of the 127,000 member organization....
TAMPA — The taxi cabs here might not be the newest, swankiest ones on Earth. But are they really the "deplorable, embarrassing" pigsties that one critic alleges?
Hotel developer Lou Plasencia blasted the city's taxi industry during a recent meeting of the Hillsborough County Hotel Motel Association. Tampa cabs, which also go to St. Petersburg and Clearwater, give visitors a bad impression of the area, he complained. ...
Ask Jason Fraser how many jobs he applied for after graduating from law school last year and this is what he says:
"Maybe 10 or 20 when it was someplace I wanted to work. Maybe 50 when I started getting desperate.''
After searching from Ocala to Miami, Fraser finally landed a public defender's post in Pasco County in June. But his months of job-hunting raises another question, one that nags at many in the legal profession:...
One January evening last year, St. Petersburg police got multiple calls about "yelling and banging'' in an unusual location: a $500,000 condo in the luxury high-rise Signature Place.
Two officers quickly made their way to Unit 2403, where they found the door kicked in. On the floor inside, they saw broken glass, droplets of blood and several braids yanked from the head of a young woman brawling with two older men. ...