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. ...
For Michelle Marshall, the road to home ownership turned out to be a path.
In December, she closed on a Tarpon Springs bungalow she found through the HomePath program of the Federal National Mortgage Association, better known as Fannie Mae. The 1,870-square-foot house lured her with its two fireplaces, a vaulted ceiling and, at $124,000, a price well below the appraised value.
"It's a really a unique house,'' said Marshall, who shares it with her two teenage children. "I love this house.''...
Editor's note: This is an updated version, including new reporting, of a story that ran shortly after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
One man called her "the most objectionable person I've ever met." Another deemed her "mighty and valiant." But none could deny that in her fur boas and flowered hats, Gertrude Bell cut a unique figure as she roamed the Middle East in the early years of the 20th century. ...
06/15/14 Real Estate
In February, a new company in Tampa called RE-710 got a terrific deal. It paid $5,700 for a five-bedroom home valued at $311,000.
The same month, RE-710 acquired control of dozens of other houses and condos throughout the Tampa Bay area for just cents on the dollar. Aside from their bargain prices, the properties had something else in common. The buyers were also the sellers: three Tampa men, including convicted fraudster Barry Haught....
05/30/14 Real Estate
Well into their senior years, Kenny and Fran Goodnow were struggling to pay their mortgage in 2007 when a salesman offered what seemed like a wonderful solution.
A reverse mortgage would tap the equity in their St. Petersburg home to pay off their existing loan and give them extra cash for travel, a new car, a nest egg. Best of all, they could stay in their house.
The couple only had to take care of the property taxes and insurance, which totalled barely $100 a month back then. ...
05/22/14 Real Estate
Good news for underwater homeowners current on their mortgage payments: There's still time to apply for a program that could cut your unpaid balance by up to $50,000.
Florida housing officials re-opened a federally funded mortgage relief program last week. As of Thursday, 4,127 homeowners had signed up.
That's way down from September, when the Hardest Hit Fund Principal Reduction Program hit its cap of 25,000 applicants within a few days. So far, 2,400 of those homeowners have been helped and more than 6,000 have been turned down....
SOUTH PASADENA — Keith Burke thought he had found the perfect home — canal-side, moderately priced, in a quiet neighborhood.
That is until Pastor Jeffrey Polhill leased the rundown house next door and started renting out rooms for $500 a month.
In the past year, Burke has helped and consoled many of Polhill's tenants, who have complained to him of rats, roaches, electrical shorts, uncollected garbage and rude treatment by Polhill and his wife, Vonda. Burke has even helped some tenants move out before their leases expired because conditions were so bad....
When Gulfcoast Legal Services looked for a new executive director, one candidate had the wow factor — Kathleen Mullin, a seasoned trial lawyer and TV legal analyst.
"She was very bright, very enthusiastic'' said Ramon Carrion, president of Gulfcoast's board.
Yet barely a year after hiring Mullin, Carrion joined his colleagues in a resounding vote of "no confidence.'' Mullin left her $115,000 a year job in February, the sounds of Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead playing on one staffer's cellphone....