Skip to main content
Banking-Finance
Business Observer Friday, Jun. 13, 2008 10 years ago

Gulf Coast Week

Share
Trump Tower trumped: The $225 million Trump Tower in downtown Tampa that began with such fanfare in early 2005 appears to be headed for a quiet, ignominious end.Rays' lead-off lawyer: The Tampa Bay Rays may be riding high on the field this season, but they are in critical need of support from the Pinellas County Commission later this summer to move ahead on a new bayfront stadiumManatee cuts jobs: At least 85 jobs in Manatee County could be eliminated over the next few months, as the county begins to respond to what could be as much as $44 million in budget cuts.New Publix planned: An abandoned newspaper office could be turned into one of the largest Publix supermarkets in the area in and around downtown SarasotaEmbarq closes call center: Telephone service provider Embarq will close its Fort Myers customer call center Aug. 8 and lay off 108 employees, the company says.Creeks preserve opens: Lee County opened the Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve May 20, a 1,261-acre site on which the county spent $2.1 million to improve 200 acres with restrooms, a canoe launch, parking areas, picnic shelters, trails and observation decks.BioFlorida starts chapter: BioFlorida, the state's bioscience industry association, has launched a Southwest Florida chapter, its sixth in the state, according to the Economic Development Council of Collier County.

Gulf Coast Week

TAMPA BAY

Trump Tower trumped

The $225 million Trump Tower in downtown Tampa that began with such fanfare in early 2005 appears to be headed for a quiet, ignominious end.

Colonial Bank has begun foreclosure proceedings on the property by filing a lis pendens in Hillsborough County Circuit Court against SimDag/Robel LLC. The Montgomery, Ala.-based bank with offices all along the Gulf Coast is looking to regain $3.2 million in loans that it gave SimDag in September.

The 52-story project would have been the tallest structure on the Gulf Coast and carry the vaunted Trump name. There was considerable community excitement about it. But the residential downturn and condo market collapse seems to have doomed even such a high-profile project.

The Trump Tower was going to be an important element of the Riverwalk project along the Hillsborough River. The city of Tampa is planning to continue that $2.2 million portion, although it is only the planning stages at this point.

Rays' lead-off lawyer

The Tampa Bay Rays may be riding high on the field this season, but they are in critical need of support from the Pinellas County Commission later this summer to move ahead on a new bayfront stadium.

So the Rays have hired Ed Armstrong, a Clearwater land-use attorney and former college pitcher to handle some of the legal work and, maybe more importantly, use his deep political connections. Armstrong has been instrumental in getting several county commissioners elected and is known for his political savvy.

SARASOTA/MANATEE

Manatee cuts jobs

At least 85 jobs in Manatee County could be eliminated over the next few months, as the county begins to respond to what could be as much as $44 million in budget cuts.

In some departments, the county is laying off workers and cutting out unfilled positions that had been open. Other departments are being outright phased out.

The latter is what happened to the county's Environmental Management Department earlier this month: The county decided to completely eliminate the 24-person department, rather than lay people off piecemeal.

Some of the department's responsibilities, such as overseeing phosphate mines, will be taken over by the county's Conservation Lands Management Department. Other responsibilities, including monitoring air and water in the county, will be shifted to state departments that already do some of that work.

The county previously laid off a small number of employees in the buildings and parks departments and officials said more cuts could be coming in the future.

New Publix planned

An abandoned newspaper office could be turned into one of the largest Publix supermarkets in the area in and around downtown Sarasota, under a new proposal the city commission could vote on by the end of the summer.

Tampa-based RMC Property Group is in the process of submitting redevelopment plans to the city for the two-story building on three acres on Bay Street and U.S. 41 formerly occupied by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The building is owned by the New York Times Co., which owns the Herald-Tribune.

The developer's plans include building a two-story Publix on the site, an $8 million project that would be made up of ground-level parking and second-level shopping. At 46,000 square feet, the Publix would be larger than the one RMC helped develop two years ago just north of downtown Sarasota, at the Broadway Promenade.

RMC officials will be putting together a traffic study for the area, which is between downtown Sarasota and Sarasota Memorial Hospital. In addition to the Publix at Broadway Promenade, the grocery story chain has another store about two miles south of the new proposed development, near the intersection of U.S. 41 and Bee Ridge Road.

LEE/COLLIER

Embarq closes call center

Telephone service provider Embarq will close its Fort Myers customer call center Aug. 8 and lay off 108 employees, the company says.

Charles Fleckenstein, an Embarq spokesman, says the company has improved its service to the point where it receives fewer calls from residential customers about billing, products and services. The company also will close its call centers in Las Vegas and Clinton, N.C.

Nonunion employees who are laid off will receive two weeks' pay for every year of service and that's capped at 52 weeks. Fleckenstein says some of the employees are unionized and he could not say what the employment contracts call for.

Creeks preserve opens

Lee County opened the Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve May 20, a 1,261-acre site on which the county spent $2.1 million to improve 200 acres with restrooms, a canoe launch, parking areas, picnic shelters, trails and observation decks.

The county acquired the land with grants from the Florida Communities Trust, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District.

The county plans to rezone other areas for passive recreational uses on county owned lands, including Prairie Pines, San Carlos-Bunche Beach, Estero Marsh, Galt, Gator Hole, Hickory Swamp, Matanzas Pass, Orange River, Pine Island Flatwoods, Spanish Creek and Wild Turkey Strand.

BioFlorida starts chapter

BioFlorida, the state's bioscience industry association, has launched a Southwest Florida chapter, its sixth in the state, according to the Economic Development Council of Collier County.

The chapter will cover Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee and Sarasota counties and will sponsor networking, recruiting and training opportunities. Other parts of the state have seen an increase in the number of bioscience companies, including Scripps Research Institute, Burnham Institute, Max Planck, SRI International, M2Gen and Torrey Pines Institute.

The Southwest Florida chapter already has identified 25 bioscience companies already in the area and the hope is that universities such as Florida Gulf Coast University and Edison College can provide research and training to attract more companies.

Related Stories

Advertisement