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Business Observer Friday, Jul. 8, 2005 13 years ago

Rising Prices Fuel Dispute over Land Deal

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About four years ago, Martin Bezdek negotiated the first of three deals. He bought about 139 acres northwest of Plant City for about $4,130 an acre.
by: Adam Hughes Staff Writer

Rising Prices Fuel Dispute over Land Deal

By David R. Corder

Associate Editor

About four years ago, Martin Bezdek negotiated the first of three deals. He bought about 139 acres northwest of Plant City for about $4,130 an acre.

Over a three-year period, the Tampa real estate appraiser and land developer accumulated almost 193 acres along Charlie Taylor Road between U.S. 92 and Interstate 4. He paid nearly $1.5 million in four separate deals at an average price of $7,600 an acre.

Almost a year ago, Bezdek offered to sell the property to Metro Development Group LLC, a Tampa-based residential developer-builder. The Tampa builder agreed to pay Bezdek $16,000 each for at least 345 townhome lots proposed for the site. That's about $5.5 million or 266% more than what Bezdek paid for the acreage.

Earlier this year, Bezdek apparently had second thoughts about the deal. Last month, he asked a Hillsborough County judge to declare as null and void the contract he signed in August last year with Metro Development.

Bezdek claims Metro Development should pay him at least $41,000 for 345 townhome lots. That's about $14.1 million or nearly 843% more than what he paid for the acreage.

It appears the two sides reached an impasse over the contract in May. That's when Bezdek made the demand for $41,000 per townhome lot.

The builder objected. The company claimed it owed Bezdek only $16,000 per townhome lot or $5.5 million. Bezdek responded by terminating the contract.

To assert his claim, Bezdek has hired one of the top real estate law practices in the Tampa Bay Area - Tampa's Bricklemyer Smolker & Bolves PA. The firm assigned Richard Thomas Petitt to represent him.

Besides the declaratory action, Petitt argues Metro Development slandered title to the property.

In April, the Tampa builder recorded a memorandum of sales contract but apparently without Bezdek's permission.

Neither Bezdek nor John Ryan, Metro Development's managing member, responded to a request for comment.

Over the past several years, Metro Development has completed several small-scale residential developments in Manatee, Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties.

Bezdek also operates Land Home Concepts, a company that sells residential parcels and mobile homes in Plant City area.

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