The vacant lot behind the fence may become a mixed-use development project.
TARPON SPRINGS – Wedged between flourishing businesses, 144 E. Tarpon Ave. sits deserted, out of place among delis and antique stores.
A historic building, constructed in 1906, once sat there, but the 16-by-50-foot lot has been empty since the city demolished the building in 2008, fearing safety issues from the top-heavy structure.
Soon, if contracts are signed and deadlines are met, the lot will be vacant no longer.
Farhod M. Nikjeh has agreed to rent the property from Tarpon Springs as a mixed-use development project; 8,100 square feet will be a dedicated retail space and eight residential units on the top floor of the building. The lease will last two years from the signing of the contract, with the option to buy the property at any point after the shell of the building has been constructed.
“We’ve been talking for a long time about a livable, walkable downtown,” said City Manager Mark LeCouris. “What we’re doing to revitalize the downtown is far greater than what the city and the taxpayers will be giving.”
The retail store in the property will employ nine people: six retail salespeople with an estimated annual salary of $25,875 and three supervisors with an estimated annual salary of $45,261.
Beyond employment opportunities, the city also will take in almost $20,000 in taxes from property tax revenues and electric utility taxes and fees. The construction costs for the project are estimated at $3 million, with more than $1 million in additional costs that would create a ripple-down effect to supplies of lumber, concrete, heating and cooling, lighting fixtures and other construction materials.
“I think this is a win-win for the city and the developer,” said Vice Mayor Susan Slattery. “It’s going to help revitalize downtown even more and move us in the right direction.”