Left, Seminole Mall, LP, new owner of the Seminole Mall, is set to purchase The Seminole Office Center, located adjacent to the mall at 7985 113th St. N.
SEMINOLE – Seminole Mall, LP, a limited partnership which acquired the Seminole Mall last October, is poised to purchase Seminole Office Center, located adjacent to the mall at 7985 113th St. N.
Dale Johnson, a project development director for the Tampa-based Primerica Group One, which handles development and management of the mall property, said she expects the deal to close within the next 30 days.
The Seminole Office Center, currently owned by The Ross Realty Group, Inc., is comprised of two buildings, including the former BB&T bank building. The Greater Seminole Chamber of Commerce office is located in one of these buildings.
Elliott Ross, owner of Ross Realty, said the office center has been under contract for sale for several months but the Chamber has held up the sale.
“The purchase of the building is a major piece of the redevelopment plan for the mall and currently, the Seminole Chamber is the only obstacle in the way of the redevelopment process and the sale,” Ross wrote in an Aug. 31 email.
According to Ross, the Chamber’s lease provides the organization with free space in the building in return for the equivalent value in Chamber sponsorship and building promotion. But, Ross alleges, they’re in default of their agreement because the building has never been included in any of the Chamber’s sponsorship lists. And, he said, because they want to retain their current lease agreement with the new owner, this will cost Ross Realty $25,000 to move the Chamber into a guaranteed equivalent space with free rent elsewhere within the two buildings.
But Roger Edelman, Chamber President, and Johnson dismiss Ross’ allegations and say that all issues have been worked out. Both say a lease amendment with the Chamber was signed on Aug. 30 that would allow the sale to move forward.
“As far as I know, all conditions have been cleared as of Friday afternoon (Aug. 30) for the sale of the buildings in question to Primerica, the new owners of the mall,” Edelman said via email.
In an interview, he said that while there’s more to the story – which could paint a negative picture of Ross – the city and community should focus on the positive outcome of the sale.
“The fact is it sold; [Ross] isn’t the owner of it anymore; and Primerica is the owner. That was the whole objective to begin with,” he said, adding, “A lot of what they say is absolutely not true.”
The most important thing is what the mall development could mean for the community, Edelman added.
“We all have to work together on this,” he said. With the purchase of the office center, he anticipates that Seminole Mall, LP “is going to put together a really nice package. They’re going to build a very successful project. It’s very exciting for the city.”
Johnson said, “We have a great relationship with the Chamber. Everything is moving forward in a very positive manner.”
No plans are currently set at the mall or the office center, though, she added, and tenants will likely stay put in the office center until at least February 2015.
Representatives met with the city on Aug. 21, said Mark Ely, community development director.
“We had a general discussion about the mall, but they did not leave anything with us to review or comment on,” he added via email.
Primerica’s attorney will hold a public meeting at the Chamber office sometime this month to speak on the subject of Brownfield designations, Edelman said.
Edelman added anything is possible when it comes to the development of the mall, and Seminole Mall, LP could raze the structure completely or attempt to work with it as is.
Several stores currently have long-term leases at the mall, he said, including Bealls, Stein Mart, Radio Shack and Ross. Smaller tenants have left the mall, including, most recently, Telly’s Restaurant at the end of August and the Oz Super Buffet and Grill several months before that. Primerica isn’t currently taking any new leases, he added.
“Really, there’s no telling what they plan to do,” he said.
Johnson said the company doesn’t know what it plans to do yet. Primerica primarily has developed anchored shopping centers.
Whatever is put into place, will be a boon for the community, she added.
“It will be a wonderful downtown for people,” she said, “which is something Seminole doesn’t have. It’s still an ongoing process and there’s tremendous interest. It’s been a very positive process and will be very positive for the city and for everyone involved.