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City okays $1-million bailout on land loan

A nonprofit group in charge of financing Tampa Heights' revitalization couldn't repay the bank after a sale fell through.

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002

TAMPA -- The City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a $1.07-million bailout for the nonprofit group in charge of financing Tampa Heights' revitalization.

Tampa Bay Economic Development Corp. (TEDCO) was scheduled to pay First Union Bank the money borrowed to acquire and develop land in the historic neighborhood just north of downtown.

The city had anticipated that 70 acres along the river would be sold and further developed by Centex, a Dallas construction firm, and the Hogan Group, a local real estate outfit.

The loans were brokered under the stewardship of Steve LaBrake, the city's former housing chief who left office last year amid ethics investigations.

Sales of the property were supposed to pay off the debt. But the Centex/Hogan Group deal, which called for townhomes, businesses, office towers and a marina, fell through in 2000.

The city is hoping the Bank of America and Stetson University will acquire part of the property and develop it. If so, the city would be repaid the money, which was taken from its Capital Improvement Project Fund.

"Ultimately we will sell the property and good things will happen to it," said Bob Harrell, the city's director of business and community service.

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