1. Business

Legal woes cloud future of one of Tampa Bay's last go-kart tracks

ST. PETERSBURG — One of the last go-kart tracks in the Tampa Bay area is in danger of going out of business, according to lawsuits filed in Pinellas Circuit Court.

The owners of Pro-Karting Experience at 4770 34th St. N are being sued by their landlord for owing almost $1 million in back rent, according to the lawsuit. The go-kart track operator also owes property taxes, has failed to maintain the property and is in danger of shutting down, according to a lawsuit filed on April 23.

Pro-Karting Experience president Terrence Downs and his wife Bobbie are already embroiled in another legal dispute with their landlord, 34th Street LLC, which is owned by Habibollah Shobeiri.

Shobeiri sued the couple on March 13, saying they had denied him his 50 percent stake in Pro-Karting Experience and that their "gross mismanagement" of the company "may well result in the total destruction of the Company and its business activities."

The ownership agreement was struck in 2014, the lawsuit said, a year before a 10-year lease for the property was signed in 2015.

Shobeiri's lawsuit says he's not getting his share of revenue from the go-kart business, that the Downs instead "wrongfully directed said revenues to themselves for their own sole benefit."

The landlord asked the court to appoint someone to oversee the business while the legal disputes are sorted out.

Terrence Downs denied the allegations in the lawsuits, but declined to comment further.

"It's definitely not the case," he told the Tampa Bay Times.

Shobeiri could not be reached for comment.

The landlord's latest lawsuit was filed April 23. In it, 34th Street LLC claims that Pro-Karting Experience owes $962,030.65 in unpaid rent and $22,243.95 in unpaid property taxes for last year.

According to a lease filed as evidence with the suit, Pro-Karting Experience entered into a rental agreement with 34th Street LLC that started Jan. 1, 2015 and would run through Dec. 31, 2025.

The lease states the tenant was to pay $20,000 per month in rent, plus $1,400 for property taxes, and maintain the property.

"Rental payments of $20,000 have not been paid in full since the very inception of your lease," 34th Street LLC attorney George Harder wrote in an April 4 letter to Downs.

The suit claims Pro-Karting Experience has only paid $129,369 in rent out of the $1,091,400 that has accrued over 51 months — or just 12 percent of what the landlord says is owed. Harder also claims the go-kart operator has failed to maintain the property, letting electrical and plumbing at the location fall into disrepair.

The St. Pete go-kart track is one of five left in the region and one of two still operating in Pinellas County.

Shobeiri on April 30 filed a motion for final judgement in the March lawsuit. The judge has not yet ruled, according to court records.

Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at Follow @danuscripts.