LARGO — Almost exactly one year ago, local developer Gary Tave came before city commissioners to deliver some bad news. His ambitious proposal to build a complex mixing apartments with commercial space in two buildings on the 500 and 600 blocks of West Bay Drive was dead, because he couldn’t find any investors who believed in downtown Largo.
Until now, that is.
And while the original plans for the $48 million-plus West Bay Lofts are a thing of the past, a new project is forming that could include as many as 300 apartments and retail on the ground floor.
“It’s been a long road,” Tave told city commissioners Jan. 5. “I’ve never given up on downtown Largo.”
His new partner, Property Markets Group, also believes in its potential and it has extensive resources, he said.
The national real estate development firm has offices in Miami and Manhattan, and for the past 28 years has been a part of over 150 real estate projects. It’s currently working on projects in St. Petersburg and Sarasota.
“They have very extensive managerial, technical and financial resources at their disposable, and in our discussions, they have grown to be as enthusiastic about the potential of downtown Largo as I am,” Tave said.
The partnership isn’t solidified yet, though.
In Tave’s original development agreement with the city, he had until June 2019 to begin construction and until February 2021 to complete West Bay Lofts. If he didn’t meet the deadline, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency retained the right to repurchase the 500 block, which it sold to Tave for $200,000 in 2015.
Therefore, commissioners on Jan. 5 approved an extension until May 11 for Tave and PMG to finalize its joint venture and begin taking steps to proceed, which includes a new site plan.
The commission would later have to approve a new development agreement, but from there it would be “full steam ahead,” said Jon Glickman of Property Management Group.
“It probably takes us about four to six months, depending on permitting and everything else, to get to the demolition, which there isn’t really much. We could be in the ground pretty quickly,” he said, adding that construction could start in six months.
Hearing that was a relief to commissioners, whose patience had grown thin following a project that’s been filled with starts and stops the past four years.
“I am extremely excited that PMG is a part of this,” Commissioner Jamie Robinson said.
The city is also working to redevelop the 400 block in a bid to build its new $51 million City Hall and spark investment in downtown. Robinson said PMG’s interest will only add to that effort.
“I also believe that by PMG showing an investment in Largo, it’s going to really bring some other people, because you guys are obviously players in the game. So people are going to pay attention to what you’re doing,” he said.
What it will be doing, Glickman said, is a complex based on its multifamily Society brand. In the past five to 10 years, PMG has built about 30 of those types of buildings in areas all over the country, including New York, Miami, Orlando, Chicago, and Denver.
The project will also be mixed-use with retail on the ground floor, he said, checking off something on the city’s wish list.
“We are going to try and make it a pedestrian-friendly and attractive destination as possible,” he said.