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Business Observer Thursday, May 22, 2008 10 years ago

Gulf Coast Week

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Judge supports St. Joe's: St. Joseph's Hospital remains alive in the competition to build a hospital in the growing south shore area of southern Hillsborough County.Council delays brewery: Joe Redner, Tampa's famous strip club owner and continual political candidate, wants to try another business venture: brewing beer.St. Pete loses air carrier: High fuel prices have claimed another victim: USA 3000, the second-busiest carrier at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.Infrastructure spending: Sarasota County commissioners approved $14 million in infrastructure spending earlier this month, the first approvals since county voters approved an increase to the county's bond borrowing capabilities in a May 6 referendum.Arts Day canceled: Arts Day, an annual event held in downtown Sarasota to showcase the region's artists, musicians and performers, has been canceled for 2009Mercier exits commission: Paul Mercier, who has been considered by some to be one the most pro-development members of the Sarasota County commission during the past eight years, has decided not to run for a third termLee approves bond sale: The Lee County Commission approved the issuance of $63 million in private-activity bonds to finance Pacific Retirement Services' acquisition of Cypress Cove at HealthParkNew flood maps for Lee: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released the final flood-insurance maps for Lee County.New Le

Gulf Coast Week

TAMPA BAY

Judge supports St. Joe's

St. Joseph's Hospital remains alive in the competition to build a hospital in the growing south shore area of southern Hillsborough County.

An administrative law judge filed a recommendation supporting St. Joseph's bid to build a facility at Big Bend Road.

Last year the state Agency for Health Care Administration ruled Hospital Corp. of America would be allowed to close South Bay Hospital in Sun City Center and build a facility on land it owns along Big Bend Road, about eight miles north of its current site on State Road 674.

However, Sun City Center residents opposed South Bay's bid to relocate to Big Bend Road because they wanted to keep a hospital in their retirement community. The judge's recommendation now goes to the agency, which must decide whether to support the judge or uphold its original denial of St. Joseph's bid.

Council delays brewery

Joe Redner, Tampa's famous strip club owner and continual political candidate, wants to try another business venture: brewing beer.

Redner and his son Joey want to open Cigar City Brewing, at the Redner headquarters on Spruce Street near Dale Mabry Highway, in September. But the plan has already hit a snag: It recently did not get the required four votes at the Tampa City Council when it sought a wet zoning. So Redner is going back to the council for another vote June 5. Two of the council members were absent.

Redner plans to brew the beer and sell it to local restaurants, bars and liquor stores. He also wants to open the brewery to tours, give out samples and sell beer there. The father-and-son team also want to hold catered dinners there on Fridays.

St. Pete loses air carrier

High fuel prices have claimed another victim: USA 3000, the second-busiest carrier at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.

The carrier said it was ending service at the Pinellas County airport Aug. 18 because fuel costs were eroding profits, adding another $60 per seat in costs.

USA 3000 schedules 21 flights a week from the airport to Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburg and St. Louis.

SARASOTA/MANATEE

Infrastructure spending

Sarasota County commissioners approved $14 million in infrastructure spending earlier this month, the first approvals since county voters approved an increase to the county's bond borrowing capabilities in a May 6 referendum.

About $6 million worth of the funding is going toward several road projects, including repaving in heavily traveled areas such as Beneva Road between Clark Road and U.S. 41 and Swift Road between Bee Ridge and Stickney Point roads. Another $7 million will be used to buy land along Fruitville Road east of Interstate 75; the land will be cleared so the road can be widened to four lanes.

The remaining $1 million is being earmarked for sidewalk improvement projects throughout the county.

Arts Day canceled

Arts Day, an annual event held in downtown Sarasota to showcase the region's artists, musicians and performers, has been canceled for 2009. The Sarasota Arts Council, which runs the festival, says the costs to run the event have increased - just as donations and general interest in it have decreased.

The cancellation of Arts Day follows the cancellation of the Sarasota Reading Festival, which was announced in late April. Organizers of that annual event also cited a decrease in fundraising and donations.

Arts Day had been held every January for the past 18 years.

Mercier exits commission

Paul Mercier, who has been considered by some to be one the most pro-development members of the Sarasota County commission during the past eight years, has decided not to run for a third term. Mercier represents District 1, which is comprised mostly of the neighborhoods north of Fruitville Road.

Mercier, 64, had previously said he would run for a third term, but after talking it over with friends and family, he decided to pull out. A native of Lowell, Mass., Mercier, a Republican, served as a U.S. Army Ranger captain in the Vietnam War and worked in insurance before winning his first term to the commission in 2000. He was reelected in 2004.

Mercier had two likely opponents if he ran for reelection. Jono Miller, the director of the Environmental Studies Program at New College of Florida, has filed to run as a Democrat and John Mullarkey, who is registered as an Independent, has also said he will run for the seat. The Republican Party of Sarasota is now planning to recruit a candidate for the election.

LEE/COLLIER

Lee approves bond sale

The Lee County Commission approved the issuance of $63 million in private-activity bonds to finance Pacific Retirement Services' acquisition of Cypress Cove at HealthPark near Bass and Summerlin roads in Fort Myers from Lee Memorial Hospital.

Cypress Cove consists of 362 independent-living units, 44 assisted-living units, and 64 skilled-nursing beds on 48 acres. The Lee County Industrial Development Authority will issue the bonds.

Pacific Retirement Services is a not-for-profit operator of continuing-care retirement communities.

New flood maps for Lee

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released the final flood-insurance maps for Lee County. These maps, which establish flood-insurance rates and elevation requirements for construction, will become effective Aug. 28.

To look up the flood zone for a parcel in Lee County, visit www.lee-county.com/dcd/fema.htm.

New Lee fertilizer ordinance

Lee County commissioners recently approved a new fertilizer ordinance that limits application during the rainy summer months.

The restrictions are in place from June 1 to Sept. 30 and applications of fertilizers that contain nitrogen or phosphorus to turf or plants are forbidden during that time. Fines will start at $100 for the first offense.

Farms and golf courses that adhere to already strict standards are exempted from the new requirements.

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