1. Real Estate

Brash investor Ben Mallah pays $27 million for shopping center near Raymond James Stadium

TAMPA — A high-profile shopping center near Raymond James Stadium has been sold to Largo investor Ben Mallah, a colorful real estate executive outspoken enough to have a well-trafficked presence on YouTube.

Mallah paid $27 million for the center at the southeast corner of at N Dale Mabry Highway and Columbus Drive. It is home to Ashley Furniture, a WingHouse Bar & Grill and Floor & Decor, all of which are expected to stay.

The seller was a company associated with Third Lake Capital, an investment fund created by the Wanek family, which owns Ashley Furniture and the WingHouse Bar & Grill chain.

"There are a lot of plans for that area of Tampa," Mallah said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times. "The center is looking to fill a 4,200 square-foot-space with a tenant that would fit in with the existing retailers. Plans are underway in the immediate area to add more furniture and home improvement shops."

Specifically, Mallah said, plans are in the works to redevelop the auto dealership across N Dale Mabry — the Jerry Ulm Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership — with a Rooms to Go.

"We are working with Jerry Ulm to develop the site," Terri Thiro, assistant to Rooms to Go president Jeffrey Seaman, said Monday.

Mallah's Equity Management Partners owns hotels, multi-family complexes and shopping centers throughout the Tampa Bay area and central Florida.

Two years ago, Mallah made a promotional video for a web series called Life: For sale while he floated in a lime-green inner tube behind his Largo mansion.

"My name is Benjamin Mallah, and I want someone to take over my life. I'm looking for the right person to be my protégé, someone with big enough balls to come in and take over my $150 million portfolio," he said, When a white yarmulke fell off his head into the pool, he called for his wife to retrieve it. "I want to stick around a while longer, so I got to find the right person to fill my fat-a-- shoes. Take over my life today."

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