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Meanwhile, the fate of the adjacent mobile home park remains unclear.
Published Feb. 15, 2008

The owners of Bay Pines Marina have asked the county for permission to more than double the number of dry slips as part of a proposed expansion of the business.

The Jan. 16 petition amends a request that was filed last year. The new application asks for permission to make massive changes to the marina, at 5000 92nd St. N, which is next to the Harbor Lights Mobile Home Park.

The marina, built in the 1970s, has 60 wet slips, 300 high and dry slips, a fueling facility, a sewage pumpout station, a loading ramp for the dry slips and a bait shop. The owners, East Madeira Corp. and the Travis Corp., want to add 400 dry slips, build 163 wet slips after eliminating some of the existing ones, dredge the area, install a canoe/kayak launch site, and build a 6-foot-wide passageway along the seawall, among other things.

When revamped, the marina would have 700 dry slips and 163 wet slips. All would be open to the public.

If the county approves the permits, Seminole must decide whether to issue building permits and approve the layout of the parking lot to accommodate the new slips. The state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission must also give its blessing.

The marina and the adjoining mobile home park have been in the news since June 2005, when developer John Loder announced that his Sun Vista Development Group wanted to buy the park and the marina for $60-million - $45-million for the park and $15-million for the marina. Loder said he wanted to build a $300-million project with nearly 400 residences, including townhomes, single-family dwellings and luxury condominiums from $600,000 to $1.75-million. Buyers were to have first choice of boat slips and docks.

Loder was unable to close on schedule and upped the price on the 34-acre park to $47-million, making the total value of the deal $62-million. But Loder again failed to close, blaming a problem with the title. The Travises sued to have the contract declared null. Loder countersued and said in the suit he still wanted the park and asked the judge to make the sale go through.

The lawsuits were settled last August when the Travises agreed to reinstate the contract and Loder agreed to close by January. Loder later agreed to sell the park to the residents and said that he wanted to keep the marina and expand it because boat slips were becoming an endangered species in Pinellas County.

Loder did not close in January.

It is unclear where matters stand or whether the park residents will have a chance to buy Harbor Lights. Neither the Travises nor their attorney returned phone calls Friday.