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City closes rescue mission deal
Several community redevelopment projects under way
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Two pieces of property owned by the Suncoast Haven of Rest Rescue Mission at 5625 and 5663 Park Blvd. now belong to the city of Pinellas Park. The city has also approved the purchase of several other properties within that strip.
PINELLAS PARK – The city of Pinellas Park closed on the purchase of two Park Boulevard properties owned by the Suncoast Haven of Rest Rescue Mission. The deal was finalized on New Year’s Eve, about a week-and-a-half after the original closing date of Dec. 21.

The deal hit a momentary snafu when a lease agreement between the rescue mission and Dolphin Plumbing, which owns property in the same commercial strip, was revealed. The rescue mission leases the second floor of Dolphin’s property at 5681 Park Blvd., using it as a residential space for staff and volunteers. This lease ends March 31.

In November, the city agreed to pay the rescue mission $370,000 for the properties, plus an estimated $5,140 in closing costs. Originally, the city said the mission could stay rent-free through the end of January.

Now, to accommodate the lease, the city has agreed that the rescue mission can continue to operate at its Park Boulevard location through the end of March. The Rev. Lionel Cabral said the city is asking it to pay about $1,500 per month in rent through March.

At its Dec. 13 meeting, the City Council also approved the purchase of other lots within that strip, including Dolphin’s property and a vacant lot to its north from Robert L. Watson and Mary L. Watson for $250,000. Dolphin is also permitted to remain on its property through March 31. Other properties purchased include: .18 acres at 5609 Park Blvd. from IHK Security, LLC for $145,000; .21 acres of vacant property at the northwest corner of 56th Street and Park Boulevard from Jason Jagdeo and Ramnarace Jagdeo for $82,000; .35 acres at 5667 74th Ave. N. at Park Boulevard from GTE Financial for $166,500 plus closing costs; and .19 acres at 5705 Park Blvd. from David and Mary Touchton for $140,000 plus closing costs.

“A couple of these properties are a little on the expensive side,” said Tim Caddell, a spokesperson for the city, “but it all comes down to whether it serves the public interest or not. If it’s in the best interest of the community and the residents, then it’s worth it.”

Three parcels in this strip have not been purchased by the city, including Bottles Pub, located to the east of the rescue mission at 5619 Park Blvd., and Vice Mayor Rick Butler’s real estate office to the rescue mission’s west, at 5635 Park Blvd. Butler has recused himself from all votes pertaining to these properties because of the conflict of interest, but has indicated he has no interest in selling. “I just got my place looking the way I like,” he said. “Why would I want to sell?” But he’s excited about the revitalization of the area.

All of these properties fall within the city’s Community Redevelopment Area, a designated business area near Park Station and City Hall. It was established in 1989 with money set aside each year from tax increment financing, a public financing method used for community improvement. The City Council, which doubles as the Community Redevelopment Agency in charge of this area, hopes to revitalize business development and create a dynamic mixed-use center.

Caddell said the city doesn’t have any specific plan for the Park Boulevard properties it has been purchasing over the past couple of months.

“We might fix them up and resell them or tear them down and build something new,” he said. “Anything is possible.”

The city also has several other redevelopment projects in the works in that area.

Two city-owned properties on 75th Terrace within the United Cottages neighborhood, an area of historic, tourist cottages, are nearing completion. The structures are zoned for commercial and residential use, Caddell said, and depending on what deals are presented to the city could be leased or sold. Construction should be finished by the end of February, said Tom Shevlin, Pinellas Park assistant city manager.

“There’s a lot of anticipation of beautifying and sprucing up the area,” Shevlin said.

The city is also completing the third and final phase of a 2.9-acre park, which was primarily created to improve drainage in the area. The yet-to-be-named park will be located at 76th Avenue between 40th and 43rd streets and will include a man-made pond with a pedestrian trail around it and a playground.
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