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Pizzuti attracted to public-private partnership

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  • | 3:36 p.m. November 17, 2009
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Pizzuti attracted to public-private partnerships

Dealing with local municipalities can lead to a lot of hair-pulling for developers, but at least one company is seeing public-private developments as a growing niche during the economic recession.

Pizzuti Solutions, the public-private division of the Columbus, Ohio-based Pizzuti Cos., is working on several new projects with governments in Florida, including two along the Gulf Coast in Dunedin and Naples.

It is working with the city of Dunedin to develop a 4.1-acre downtown parcel on Main Street and State Road 580 as Dunedin Gateway, a $30-million retail and office development. Pizzuti Solutions, which plans to build 25,000 square feet of retail and 20,000 square feet of office space in the first phase, helped the city land a $1.3 million grant to improve Main Street in front of the project and to bury the utilities.

“The city wants to see it go, but no one wants an empty building,” says Tom Harmer, head of Pizzuti Solutions. “So we have a development agreement with them to reach 50% in our preleasing before we start building the building. They know that, and they are working to help us on marketing the building.”

Further south in Naples, Pizzuti Solutions is acting as the master developer to create a cultural arts mixed-use development on 18 acres in partnership with the Bayshore Gateway Triangle Community Redevelopment Agency.

For now, Pizzuti is working to evaluate the site, gather community input and create a concept and financial plan for the project. After that is completed in about a year, Pizzuti's hope is that it will be chosen by the CRA to actually develop the project.

Private partnerships have become more attractive to municipalities, Harmer says, as their finances declined from the double hit of lower property tax revenue and chilled lending. For Pizzuti, the governments offer the company a stable, patient customer/partner and in many cases, prime locations and development incentives.


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