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Oldsmar's Market Square development proposal fades away

OLDSMAR — For years, city officials have discussed Market Square, a public-private project that would revitalize the downtown district with a mix of business and residential activity. However, making the vision a reality has proven to be tough. For the second time in two years, the city has had to break ties with a potential developer for the project that would be centered between State Street and Tampa Road.

And according to City Manager Bruce Haddock, any more discussion on the issue will be put on hold for at least a few months.

"My thoughts right now on Market Square is that we will take a reprieve from that project,'' he said.

In 2013, talks between the city and FSA Inc. of Oldsmar ended because of disagreements on a proposed parking garage. This time, one piece of property got in the way. Stephen Grimme of Smith Equity Builders was trying to secure a development agreement before a July 27 deadline, but the project came to a halt when a deal could not be reached with Bruce Swain, who owns a small business plaza at Commerce and Fairfield streets. The property was the missing puzzle piece for the 2015 version of Market Square.

When Grimme first approached the city with his development plan, there was optimism that Swain would sell the land that had been appraised for $539,000. However, as the deadline for a development agreement was fast approaching, Grimme told the City Council that he had not reached a deal with Swain, who stood fast on not taking less than $1 million. Swain could not be reached for comment.

The council voted down a request from Grimme to extend the deadline.

Haddock said this doesn't mean the Market Square idea is gone forever.

"I just think maybe it would be good to allow some time for the frayed ends to settle,'' he said.

Contact Piper Castillo at Follow @Florida_PBJC.