TAMPA — Ybor City investor Darryl Shaw has paid $10 million for an industrial site that another Tampa developer once targeted for two high-rise towers.
Shaw bought the Gas Worx property — yes, it's really spelled with an "x" — from Tampa Electric Co. late last month, according to Hillsborough County property records.
The 7.6-acre site lies between Ybor City and the Channel District, and is on the other side of the Nick Nuccio Parkway from the Tampa Park Apartments, a much discussed possible site for a Tampa Bay Rays ballpark.
Peoples Gas currently uses the property as a base for its field operations, but is scheduled to move out at the end of the year, Tampa Electric spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said.
It's not clear what will happen after that.
Tampa economic development official Bob McDonaugh told the City Council that Shaw has indicated he doesn't have a plan for the property now.
Still, the Gas Worx site is the latest addition to a growing real estate portfolio for Shaw, the CEO of BluePearl Veterinary, a Tampa-based company with emergency animal hospitals and specialty veterinary clinics nationwide.
Last October, Shaw's business partner, home builder Ariel Quintela, said the two men were looking to invest up to $34 million at five different locations in Ybor City — and that didn't include the Gas Worx.
Their plans included more than 200 apartments, some in new buildings, but many in restored historic properties such as the old Oliva Cigar Factory, the Don Vicente de Ybor Historic Inn and the former Blues Ship Cafe.
Ybor City business leaders are encouraged that the Gas Worx property drew a buyer with an appreciation for the architectural essence of the historic district.
"If we can start off on that corner and get a developer that wants to do something that's reflective of the character here, other people will, too," said attorney Walter Aye, the immediate past chairman of the nonprofit Ybor City Development Corp. "I think Darryl Shaw is somebody who's showing himself to be a pretty good citizen and a pretty visionary type of developer."
Shaw wasn't the only developer to take an interest in the Gas Worx site.
In May 2015, developer Donald Phillips applied for city zoning to build two 29-story residential towers and a retail building with room for a grocery store on the site. Later, Phillips downsized the plan to something on the scale of two eight- to 10-story buildings.
The northern part of the Gas Worx site was a manufactured gasification plant from the late 1890s to 1959. The southern part of the property was used as a propane filling station for Hillsborough County buses and for the storage of pipes, plumbing components and construction equipment.
Over the years, old tanks, buildings and more than 11,500 tons of soil tainted by coal tar have been removed from the site. City Hall has designated the Gas Worx property as a "brownfield" site, meaning any environmental cleanup that's necessary for development could get a boost from state and federal incentives.
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Ybor City boosters have argued to the city that it makes sense to include the Gas Worx site in the community redevelopment area (CRA) for Ybor City instead of in the 870-acre CRA for downtown. That way, a portion of the property taxes generated by new development at the site could be spent on a distinctive gateway to the historic district.
City Council members have discussed that request on and off for the better part of a year, most recently last week. But city officials are still researching the legal ramifications of that kind of transfer because they don't want to do anything that would undermine the ability of the downtown CRA to pay for future public works projects.
Contact Richard Danielson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @Danielson_Times