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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 9 months ago

STAR search: Development opportunity seeks new direction

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All three bids for a 96-acre Pinellas County tech park are rejected.

LARGO — The future of Pinellas County’s Young & Rainey Science Technology & Research Center has been thrown into doubt —again — after the county’s economic development agency rejected three bids for the 96-acre light industrial and technology park in Largo, whose value was appraised at $19.1 million in 2015.

The bidders that made the short list were Harrod Properties Inc., Clearview Tower Company II LLC and Belleair Development LLC. In accordance with state law, Pinellas County Economic Development did not disclose details of the bids.

The STAR Center, as it’s known, is home to defense contractor Raytheon, which leases the bulk of the property’s land and buildings, though 10.4 acres are available for immediate development. PCED Director Mike Meidel says Raytheon’s outsized presence at the site might have been a factor that kept bids low.

“Raytheon’s lease is fairly long term,” Meidel tells Coffee Talk, “and they have renewal terms that could go quite a way into the future, and so there’s not a lot of opportunity to add revenue. That put a cap on what people could earn” from buying the property.

Pinellas County has owned the STAR Center since the mid-1990s but put it on the market in 2015. A deal to sell the property to Los Angeles-based Industrial Realty Group fell through earlier this year, leading to the most recent round of bids.

In July, Meidel told Coffee Talk he didn’t expect any of the bids to “hit the $19 million mark,” but the county had hoped to get at least $10 million for the site. It’s unclear what will become of the property now, but PCED is likely to suspend efforts to sell it and instead focus on redeveloping and modernizing the site. 

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