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  1. St. Petersburg

Fourth Street's former Durango Steakhouse demolished, but no replacement yet

The former Durango Steakhouse structure at 3901 Fourth St. N has been demolished. Plans were submitted in 2017 for a Pollo Tropical, but the popular chicken chain decided against building a location here. [Monique Welch | Times]
Published Jun. 26

ST. PETERSBURG — The eyesore at 3901 Fourth St. N that was once home to Durango Steakhouse nearly a decade ago, is now down to the dirt.

For years, the nearly 5,000-square-foot structure has sat vacant in search of a new owner. The city of St. Petersburg issued a demolition permit on June 3 and the deteriorating structure is gone.

However, the search for a Durango replacement continues.

In April 2017, the popular, Miami-originated chicken chain, Pollo Tropical, submitted plans to the city but those plans went nowhere.

"(The) status of the plans remains 'in process' and no permits have been issued," said Elizabeth Abernethy, the city of St. Petersburg director of planning and development services.

"The last activity on the building plans was March 2018."

The Tampa Bay Times previously reported that BankAtlantic signed a 20-year land lease with plans to expand and open a branch at the property. But that plan backfired when the recession hit.

In 2012, a larger bank, BB&T, acquired ownership of Fort Lauderdale-based BankAtlantic. The merger resulted in 21 bank closures and left BankAtlantic trapped into paying $200,000 a year for a property it was not occupying.

Their only way out was finding someone to take over the lease.

And although the site sits near one of the county's busiest Publix stores, a Bank of America branch and a Walgreens, and draws thousands of cars that drive by every day, it still after more than 10 years cannot find a new owner.

The site has a market value of $770,000, according to the Pinellas County Property Appraiser.

Raphael Gross, a managing director who handles investor relations for Pollo Tropical, says the group has "decided not to build a Pollo Tropical at this location."

He did not provide a reason why the company backed out and the property owner, Third Generation Properties, could not be reached for comment.

Contact Monique Welch at mwelch@tampabay.com or Follow mo_unique_.

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