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Business Observer Friday, Apr. 18, 2008 10 years ago

Gulf Coast Week

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Ybor meters coming out: To encourage more visitors and business in Ybor City, Tampa has started to pull out parking meters on the streets of the historic district.New redevelopment manager: Robert McDonaugh, who has worked in real estate development for the port of TampaClearwater streetscape: With work on the Cleveland Street streetscape complete, Clearwater officials' next step in reigniting the city's downtown will be an $11 million boat slips project.Scaled back trend grows: Sarasota developer Billy Springer is contemplating another do-over of his latest housing proposal, following a growing trend in the county: The scaled-back project.Buyers for Murdock Village: An 870-acre undeveloped swath of land in Port Charlotte owned by Charlotte County has drawn interest from several Gulf Coast developersMetro Parkway widened: State and local transportation officials announced a portion of Metro Parkway in Fort Myers will be widened to six lanes from its current two lanes.Lee school tax stalls: An effort to lower taxes on new construction that benefit schools will have to wait until the state legislative session is over, Lee County commissioners have decided.

Gulf Coast Week

TAMPA BAY

Ybor meters coming out

To encourage more visitors and business in Ybor City, Tampa has started to pull out parking meters on the streets of the historic district.

The meters will be transitioned to two-hour parking spaces. It is anticipated that some amount of tax increment financing revenue collected from Ybor City will go toward reimbursing the city's parking fund for lost revenue. Additionally, there may be a personnel savings through the reduced need for enforcement.

The new parking plan for Ybor is expected to take effect within the next few months. Until the meters have been removed, all current parking policies will remain in effect.

New redevelopment manager

Robert McDonaugh, who has worked in real estate development for the port of Tampa, has been named the new downtown Tampa and Channelside redevelopment manager for Tampa's Economic and Urban Development Department.

Previously, McDonaugh has worked with CB Richard Ellis as a downtown specialist. He has also served as the real estate manager for the Tampa Port Authority.

He will begin work April 21 at an annual salary of $105,000. McDonaugh is replacing Mike Chen, who will move to an existing vacant position within the department as the development services manager.

Clearwater streetscape

With work on the Cleveland Street streetscape complete, Clearwater officials' next step in reigniting the city's downtown will be an $11 million boat slips project.

The city released a retail request for proposals to attract businesses along Cleveland and adopted a new street banners logo. Dubbed "The Cleveland Street District," street festivals and events are expected to draw patrons to the area.

Clearwater will choose a designer for the downtown marina this year with construction of the 120 to 149 public boat slips at the foot of the Memorial Causeway Bridge slated to begin in the fall. The project should take about a year.

SARASOTA/MANATEE

Scaled back trend grows

Sarasota developer Billy Springer is contemplating another do-over of his latest housing proposal, following a growing trend in the county: The scaled-back project.

But Springer's shrinking project has little to do with the real estate market slump and a lot to do with appeasing governments and neighborhood groups.

Springer, head of Ridgewood Building & Development, is currently working on at least his fourth reincarnation of the project known as Palmer Place, just east of Interstate 75 near Palmer Road.

Springer was initially asked by county officials to build affordable housing on the 420-acre site and the 1,400-home proposal he came up with included at least 600 affordable units under the county's guidelines. But complaints from neighborhood groups about the size and scope of the project have led county commissioners to put off a vote on the project since August, and Springer to continually reduce the number of homes in the project. The latest delay came in early April when two county commissioners voted to kill the project entirely.

At that meeting, Springer was given the option of agreeing to pay for more road improvements, past the ones he already agreed to. Depending on Springer's decision, commissioners could next vote on the project May 28.

Buyers for Murdock Village

An 870-acre undeveloped swath of land in Port Charlotte owned by Charlotte County has drawn interest from several Gulf Coast developers in the month since a deal to sell the property to another developer fell through.

County commissioners originally envisioned the property, known as Murdock Village, as a large mixed-use project and a $72 million deal was in place to sell the land to West Palm Beach-based developer Kitson & Partners last year. But Kitson backed away from the deal in March, before it closed, citing the real estate market slump.

Several firms have expressed an interest in the site since then, some to develop and build on it, others to manage a future sale when the market recovers. The latter group, including Naples-based Economic Development Advisors, would potentially work on design and permitting of the land, so it could be ready for build-out when a developer buys it.

Other firms that could submit a proposal for the property include Lakewood Ranch-based homebuilder Neal Communities, through a partnership with Sarasota-based Benderson Development.

Charlotte County borrowed about $93 million to buy the land in 2006 and since then, the county's costs have risen to more than $100 million, through interest. Commissioners are expected to go over their options for selling the property at meetings later this month.

LEE/COLLIER

Metro Parkway widened

State and local transportation officials announced a portion of Metro Parkway in Fort Myers will be widened to six lanes from its current two lanes.

Metro Parkway is a major north-south road parallel to U.S. 41 that is home to numerous businesses. A new hospital under construction by Lee Memorial Health System will also benefit from the widening, which will stretch from Six Mile Cypress to Daniels Parkway.

Lee school tax stalls

An effort to lower taxes on new construction that benefit schools will have to wait until the state legislative session is over, Lee County commissioners have decided.

Already, Lee commissioners have waffled over reducing or eliminating new-construction taxes to pay for roads. These taxes, also called "impact fees," are imposed on builders and passed along to homebuyers. Builders have argued for the elimination of these taxes as the homebuilding economy sags.

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