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SPC considers selling gym to developers

It could become a parking garage, condominium, an apartment building or almost anything under the sun, but it likely will be months before St. Petersburg College officials know the fate of the aging gym that anchors the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex.

For the most part, the building's future has been up in the air since Clearwater officials reneged on an agreement to buy the complex last year. The city's lease on the property expired Jan. 1, and most recreation programs there have been phased out for months.

But now, as the new semester at SPC begins, college officials are again looking at selling the property _ this time to development groups eager to snatch up a piece of Pinellas County land.

"We'd love to sell it, but we don't know yet," said Susan Reiter, SPC's director of facilities planning and institutional services.

College officials are still considering uses for the land near Drew Street and Old Coachman Road, and Reiter said the college is trying to put the complex up for sale in the next month.

At least one developer has already begun eyeing the 5-acre property as a potential site for apartments or condominium units.

In early December, Clearwater's Boos Development Group contacted city officials via e-mail, asking whether they would support a zoning change on the land to high-density residential.

Richard Berk, a senior vice president at Boos, said the inquiry was made informally and out of curiosity. Boos has made no plans yet to purchase the property, he said, although the company might be interested.

The city, which owns and operates baseball and soccer fields adjacent to the gym, has said apartments would not be appropriate for the site, especially as those fields are upgraded in com

ing years.

"We thought that it might be a bit of a stretch," said Gina Clayton, Clearwater's long-range planning manager.

At this point, almost anything could happen to the complex, SPC president Carl Kuttler said. The college might find a buyer, or it might hold the land. It's too early to tell, he said.

In the meantime, Reiter said, the building will sit empty. On Tuesday morning, the musty gym was fenced off and locked down, with only a few city and SPC inspectors trolling through on a routine check for damage.

"We just want to get it on the market and see what happens to it," Reiter said.

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