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Beach Beacon
Treasure Island may buy Caddy’s
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TREASURE ISLAND – The city of Treasure Island is seeking possible funding options to purchase Caddy’s on the Beach, 9000 W. Gulf Blvd., following an offer from owner Tony Amico.

During a Nov. 17 workshop, city commissioners decided to look into possible state and federal grant options after Amico said he would sell his business and property to the city for $8.5 million.

Amico’s offer to sell came about following a recent workshop discussion on parking issues on Sunset Beach. Out of frustration and seemingly tongue-in-cheek, Amico suggested the city purchase his business to solve the weekend parking problem in the area.

Commissioners said they would consider it.

The Caddy’s offer is for 10 land parcels in the immediate area of the business. They are owned by Gulf Sands Properties LLC and T.I. Holdings Inc.

The total appraised value of the 10 tracts is $5.1 million, which raised questions from Commissioner Ed Gayton.

“It just seems so convoluted to me to get something that has been involved in legal issues and the price is very inflated for what it is,” said Gayton. “Right now, I’m not in favor of considering it.”

A portion of the property was recently involved in a legal dispute with the state of Florida but has since been resolved. Amico said he has quitclaim deeds from the state for the property in question.

As far as the selling price, Amico defended it saying the amount was well within reason.

“What’s a beach bar worth that does $5 million per year?” he asked. “It’s a business that makes money and has the ability to make more.”

Amico said he had an independent appraisal of $11.4 million on his property, including two parcels across the street on the north and south of the Ka’Tiki beach bar. He said the business itself was appraised at $6.4 million, bringing the total value to about $18 million.

“My offer is very reasonable and fair,” Amico said. “After this season, (business revenue) will go up and the value will go up.”

Regardless of the selling price, Commissioner Phil Collins said purchase of the property and business would not be a revenue-producing venture for the city. He too wondered if it was a good idea.

Commissioner Alan Bildz noted that the city does have a past history of purchasing beach bars, pointing to the former Bedrock’s on Sunset Beach, which was turned into a beach park.

“The solution isn’t to buy this for $8.5 million but something else in between might be feasible,” Bildz said.

Gayton asked how the city could possibly move forward on this when it is faced with funding issues for an underground utilities project on Gulf Boulevard and finding a means to maintain the Beach Trail.

“I think we should look into state and federal money that’s available,” said Mayor Bob Minning. “If it is, great. If it isn’t, it’s not.”

City Manager Reid Silverboard suggested applying for the necessary funds through the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for use as parks, gardens and historical sites.

In Florida, TPL has protected more than 200,000 acres at a market value of about $500 million. Among them recently is a 12-acre site in Dunedin that will be used for a city park and a two-mile extension of the Pinellas Trail into downtown St. Petersburg.

Another option for the city could be the Florida Communities Trust, which administers funding through the Parks and Open Space Florida Forever Grant Program and the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever Grant Program.

However, the state didn’t fund any projects from either program this year and it remains to be seen if the trend will change next fiscal year.

“All projects submitted last year are still in line and any other applications would fall behind that,” Silverboard said. “The state won’t know if any funding will be available for next fiscal year until April.”

If the city is to move on Amico’s offer it must do so fairly quickly. Deadline for a purchase agreement is Feb. 1, but that date can be extended if both parties agree. Closing on the deal must be done by July 31.

In other workshop action, commissioners:

• Moved forward on discussion regarding approval of a final plat for the Residence Inn Marriott, 11908 Gulf Blvd. The plan combines multiple existing lots and acreage into two lots for the hotel. A public hearing on the issue is tentatively set for Dec. 15.

• Moved forward on the purchase of five 1-yard, 12-yard and five 3-yard dumpsters from Wastequip Industrial for $15,986.

• Moved forward on the purchase of a 2010 Ford Explorer V6, 4-door, 4-wheel drive for the police department at a cost of $25,907. The new vehicle would replace a 2002 GMC Envoy 4-by-4 that has 96,080 miles on it.

• Moved ahead on forming a charter review committee. Commissioners decided to use a 7-member committee, which would require four present for a quorum. Following the suggestion of City Attorney Maura Kiefer, commissioners agreed the committee will meet Tuesdays from noon to 4 p.m. Further discussion will follow at the Dec. 15 meeting.

• Moved forward on discussion regarding a resolution to support a countywide school zone improvement program.

• Discussed the need for a vision plan that would be used to chart the city’s future budget needs. “It’s been 10 or 11 years since we’ve done this and this is a good way to get citizens involved in government,” said Minning.

In regular meeting agenda items, commissioners:

• Approved funding for an emergency sand sharing project.

• Passed a resolution allowing Jo Massaro and Karen Little, owners of Benjamin’s Studios, 200 104th Ave., to close off a portion of First Street in front of their business Saturday, Dec. 5, from 6 to 11 p.m. for a “Thank You Celebration and Holiday Block Party.”

• Approved a resolution awarding $32,985 to Advanced Engineering and Design, Hyattsville, Md., for design services related to street drainage improvements in Sunset Beach. The upgrades will take place in the area of 79th Terrace, 81st Avenue and 83rd Avenue and West Gulf Boulevard. The cost is $300,000, which is being split between the city and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

• Approved a resolution giving Minning the authority to execute an agreement with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority for beach trolley service in 2010. Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach are sharing in the agreement with PSTA. In the event revenue collected from passengers isn’t enough to pay the $76 per hour operating costs of the trolley, the cities will reimburse PSTA the difference, which cannot exceed $600,000. Terms of the contract call for Treasure Island to be responsible for one-third of the amount, or a maximum of $200,000.
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