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Bank trying to foreclose on Jersey Jim Towers center

A bank is attempting to foreclose on the Jersey Jim Towers shopping center. First Florida Bank has asked a judge to foreclose on the center at Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and U.S. 19 to pay $1,521,806.17 on a mortgage taken out by Angel Properties, a partnership headed by James "Jersey Jim" Towers Sr.

Angel Properties has failed to make its payments since Jan. 13, according to the lawsuit.

"That is a lie," Towers said Friday.

The lawsuit also said Angel Properties has not paid its real estate taxes for 1990 or 1989. Towers said that is true.

Towers said he has not received a copy of the lawsuit but he had received a notice saying he was in default on the mortgage.

Beyond that, Towers said he could not comment on the lawsuit.

Last fall, Towers announced plans to refurbish the 20-year-old center and bring in several new tenants. The remodeled center would be called Towers Crossing.

Stinger's, an upscale nightclub, and Arigato's, a Japanese steakhouse, were supposed to move in.

The remodeling has been delayed because of Towers' inability to get financing, he said. But he said he still plans to renovate the shopping center, with a different mix of tenants.

Because of the delays, Stinger's nightclub executives are considering another location for the club they have been trying to build in Clearwater for five years, said Mark Goff, who is in charge of marketing for the chain.

Goff said company executives are considering moving into a shopping center farther south on U.S. 19 where Levitz Furniture is located.

Dale DelBello, president of Arigato's, said he still has an option to move his restaurant to the center and has been waiting for Towers to get financing.

Peaches record store had planned to stay open in the renovated center but has closed. Peaches has a store in Countryside, but executives had planned to keep the store at Towers Crossing open as well, said Steve Dobbs, the chain's regional director.

Dobbs would not say why the store at the Towers' center had closed, but referred questions to another Peaches executive who did not return the Times calls.