09/27/14 Real Estate
For a brand-new home in St. Petersburg's Historic Uptown district, $351,220 will buy you four bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen and relative proximity to the city's lively downtown club and restaurant scene.
But the two-story house comes with a few drawbacks. Located smack dab at a busy intersection, it offers an unappealing view of traffic lights, guide wires and telephone poles. And the neighborhood has one of the city's higher crime rates....
09/26/14 Real Estate
ST. PETERSBURG — The first two floors of Universal Health Care's former St. Petersburg headquarters have been bought by a Tampa real estate private equity firm.
Convergent Capital Partners, whose growing portfolio includes the Hyatt Clearwater and Tampa's popular Jackson's Bistro, paid an undisclosed amount for 130,000 square feet of leasable space in the eight-story building at 100 Central Ave. The top six floors, used for parking, remain owned by the city. ...
09/26/14 Real Estate
CLEARWATER — Even for a spectacular property, $18.5 million seemed high. Turns out it was.
Fifteen months after it went on the market for that princely sum, the 24,000-square-foot Century Oaks estate will be auctioned Oct. 11 with a reserve price of less than half the original asking amount.
For as "little'' as $8.5 million, the winning bidder will get one of Tampa Bay's landmark properties, a Mediterranean-style mansion with 10 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, a theater room, a library, a music room and a ballroom, all sitting on 3.5 lushly landscaped acres overlooking Clearwater Bay. ...
09/25/14 Real Estate
TAMPA — Bill Gates' riches will help fuel Jeff Vinik's vision.
An investment fund controlled by Microsoft's billionaire founder will help finance the Tampa Bay Lightning owner's ambitious plan to build a massive entertainment, office, residential and retail district around the Amalie Arena.
"This has the potential to be a billion-dollar development," said Vinik's top lieutenant, Tod Leiweke, during a 90-minute interview at the arena Thursday....
09/22/14 Real Estate
Looking for an affordable waterfront home? Forget Tampa, where you could buy eight non-waterfront houses for the price of one median-priced place on the water.
That's according to a new analysis by Zillow, the online real estate database, that found buyers have to pay a huge "premium'' to be on the water in Tampa.
With the median price for waterfront homes 733 percent higher than for non-waterfront, the Cigar City ranks fourth on Zillow's list of 10 U.S. cities with sky-high premiums. Riviera Beach in Palm Beach County leads the pack at 1,154 percent, followed by Sarasota (1,132 percent) and Gary, Ind. (790 percent)....
09/22/14 Real Estate
Sales of single-family homes in the Tampa Bay area rose slightly in August though median sales prices remained flat.
Bay area buyers closed on 3,596 homes last month, a 3.7 percent increase over the same period last year. And while the median price stalled at $160,000, that's not necessarily bad news.
A big, rapid rise "would probably crash our economy again,'' said Dwight McDonald of International Realty Plus Tampa Bay. "The housing market did pick up and now it seems to be stabilizing. It's to everyone's advantage to stay steady, especially for working people.''...
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. ...