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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 6, 2008 10 years ago

Gulf Coast Week

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Finalists narrowed: The contract to run advertising campaigns for the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau valued at nearly $10 million will be up for grabs later this year.Executive sells home: The chief executive officer and president of Clearwater-based boat dealer MarineMax made a big sale late last month. But it wasn't a boat.New scholarship created: The charitable foundation behind Beall's, the Bradenton-based department store chain, has teamed up with the Foundation for Manatee Community College to form a new scholarshipAward nominations sought: The Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County is seeking nominations for its 2008 Hall of Fame Awards.It only took two years: Sarasota-based developer Billy Springer has finally received long-awaited approvalWhat credit crunch?: Health Management Associates raised $275 million in a convertible-bond offering on May 21.Alligator Alley privatization: The Florida Department of Transportation is exploring the possibility of privatizing Alligator Alley,Lee permits find bottom: Lee County issued construction permits for 80 single-family homes in May, a 73% decline from the 301 issued in May 2007.

Gulf Coast Week

TAMPA BAY

Finalists narrowed

The contract to run advertising campaigns for the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau valued at nearly $10 million will be up for grabs later this year.

Orlando-based advertising firm Ypartnership, which had put together radio, print and TV ads for the past few years, says it's not one of the finalists for the new contract, scheduled to begin Oct. 1. Ypartnership, run by Peter Yesawich, changed its name from Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell last year.

The bureau has been holding a competition for the past few months to select an agency to handle what is projected to be a $9.6 million advertising budget for 2008-2009. Of the two remaining firms that are considered finalists for the contract, one is local: Clearwater-based FKQ Advertising + Marketing. FKQ held the contract for a few years earlier this decade. The other firm is Milwaukee based BVK, which has an office in Fort Myers.

Executive sells home

The chief executive officer and president of Clearwater-based boat dealer MarineMax made a big sale late last month. But it wasn't a boat.

Bill McGill sold his 13,000-square foot mansion in Belleair for $10.25 million. The price is considered a record high for a single-family home in the Tampa Bay area.

The home, a French-English style mansion built on two acres, is on the Intracoastal Waterway. Dr. James St. Louis, a Tampa businessman and orthopedic surgeon who founded the Laser Spine Institute in Tampa, bought the house.

McGill, who founded MarineMax's predecessor company in 1974 and has been with the firm ever since, built the house in 2001. He put it on the market a few years ago.

SARASOTA/MANATEE

New scholarship created

The charitable foundation behind Beall's, the Bradenton-based department store chain, has teamed up with the Foundation for Manatee Community College to form a new scholarship. Known as the Sheriff Charlie Wells Endowed Scholarship Fund, the $150,000 donation provides a way for the company to help police and honor Wells, who served as Manatee County Sheriff for 22 years before he retired last year.

The scholarship is open to full-time MCC students who meet minimum-grade requirements and are pursuing criminal-justice degrees at the college. The scholarship will provide money for tuition and books for two students each year.

Beall's has a long history supporting MCC students through its R.M. Beall Sr. Charitable Foundation, which has contributed money for about 500 student scholarships over the last 20 years.

Award nominations sought

The Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County is seeking nominations for its 2008 Hall of Fame Awards. Categories include manufacturer of the year, technology company of the year and service company of the year.

The Award of Excellence, for the "best of the best," will be chosen from nominations from those three categories.

In addition to those awards, the EDC has added a new category this year: The John Cox Community Partner Award, which the agency says will recognize an "outstanding nonprofit that supports economic development or improves the area's quality of life and helps make Sarasota County an attractive place to live and work."

Nominees must be a business located in Sarasota County that pay an average annual wage of at least $36,676. Companies of any size are eligible and companies are encouraged to nominate themselves.

Nominations can be made at www.edcsarasotacounty.com, or call (941) 309-1200, ext. 110.

It only took two years

Sarasota-based developer Billy Springer has finally received long-awaited approval - barely - for a project his company has been planning east of Interstate 75 in Sarasota County. Sarasota County commissioners voted 3-2 on May 28 to allow the project, known as Palmer Place, to proceed.

Several neighborhood groups opposed to the project have delayed the project since 2006. The groups questioned the scope and size of the original project. Initially, the plan included 1,500 homes, with about half of those to be built under the county's affordable housing guidelines. At that size, the project may have been the biggest affordable-housing community in the state (see 5/22/08 Review).

The scaled-back project that commissioners approved last month now consists of 600 homes, with 300 to be built under the county's affordable-housing guidelines.

Commissioners Paul Mercier, Nora Patterson and Shannon Staub voted for the project, while Joe Barbetta and Jon Thaxton voted against it. Under the county's new supermajority government rules, the denial votes would be enough to kill the project, but since it had been on the agenda for almost two years, the new rules didn't apply.

LEE/COLLIER

What credit crunch?

Health Management Associates raised $275 million in a convertible-bond offering on May 21. The bonds are convertible into shares of the company's common stock (HMA, recent price $8) and pay a 3.75% semi-annual interest rate.

The Naples-based hospital operator says it plans to use the proceeds to retire a previous convertible-bond issue.

Alligator Alley privatization

The Florida Department of Transportation is exploring the possibility of privatizing Alligator Alley, the stretch of Interstate 75 that links Lee and Collier counties on the Gulf Coast with Broward and Miami-Dade counties on the east coast.

Alligator Alley is a 78-mile four-lane road. The state is considering leasing it and the toll collections to a private company.

Lee permits find bottom

Lee County issued construction permits for 80 single-family homes in May, a 73% decline from the 301 issued in May 2007. However, the number of single-family-home permits increased 70% from April's 47.

The county also issued permits for 28 multifamily dwellings in May, down 73% from 102 in May 2007, but up slightly from the 22 in April.

The value of commercial permits dropped 49% in May.

to $21.2 million from $41.8 million in the same month last year.

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