Group seeks to redevelop Largo East Bay Drive church site into commercial retail project

A preliminary site plan shows what a Safety Harbor developer could build on the site of a property owned by Our Savior Lutheran Church on East Bay Drive .

LARGO — A Safety Harbor developer took another step toward purchasing and redeveloping a property owned by Our Savior Lutheran Church on East Bay Drive on May 19 when city commissioners unanimously approved the initial terms of a development agreement.

Paradise Group LLC, which is under contract to purchase the 4.3-acre site east of Newport Road and west of Bedford Circle East, aims to change the land use and build a commercial retail project along the portion of East Bay Drive that an average of 60,000 vehicles pass by each day.

“The development agreement would allow the redevelopment of the property for predominantly retail commercial uses, while restricting uses that may be incompatible with the surrounding area,” Planning Manager Rick Perez said.

The property is currently zoned institutional, which includes religious, educational and other public service uses. Paradise Group will seek to change the land use to residential/office/retail to redevelop the site that has an assessed value of just over $1.9 million and has been owned by the church since 1975, according to the Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s Office.

A conceptual site plan submitted by the group shows the potential for three buildings — one 22,000-23,000 square feet, one 7,500-8,000 square feet, and one 3,500-4,000 square feet.

The development agreement prohibits the group from building certain establishments, such as adult uses, bars, nightclubs, vehicle sales, storage facilities and more.

It also requires landscaping and buffering to be included and that exterior building materials be composed of high-quality materials.

The developer also must coordinate with PSTA to design and construct an enhanced bus stop along the frontage of the property at East Bay Drive.

The project still has a long way to go before coming to fruition, though, meaning the public will have plenty of chances to weigh in.

Next, the development agreement must be presented to the Planning Board. Notices of that meeting will go out to all the properties within 500 feet.

If it moves forward, the agreement will be a part of a public hearing where the City Commission must decide on the land-use change.

From there, Forward Pinellas must review it, and then it will return to the commission for a second and final vote.

“So, there will be several hearings that take place,” Perez said. “All of them requiring a certain amount of noticing.”