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    Largo considers City Hall proposal

    By MICHAEL SANDLER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published July 19, 2002

    LARGO -- A Tampa developer has offered to buy Largo's old City Hall property and transform the vacant lot into a downtown community with pricey townhomes and shops.

    But the plan includes a series of proposed concessions that would be made by the city, beginning with the price.

    City officials have called the deal a catalyst in their long-awaited plan to spark downtown redevelopment. Now they must decide whether the development proposal is reasonable or asks for too much.

    Hyde Park Builders wants the 8 prime acres along West Bay Drive for $1.08-million -- slightly more than half of the appraised value of $1.9-million, according to a draft of the development agreement made public July 12.

    The developer also plans to request that the city meet eight major conditions that would amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of incentives. Among other things, the city is being asked to:

    Reimburse the cost of installing sewer lines up to $75,000.

    Waive $325,000 in building permits and planning fees.

    Accelerate a major street improvement project that could cost up to $250,000.

    In return, the city estimates, the new development, which would include 52 townhomes and 24,014 square feet of commercial development, would generate $163,000 in annual revenue in the form of property taxes, utilities, franchise and other fees.

    Community development director Ric Goss said that did not include the additional revenue expected from the businesses that would follow Hyde Park Builders into the market. The townhomes would be expected to sell for about $200,000, and that would create an upscale housing market in downtown Largo that doesn't exist now.

    The entire development agreement will be discussed at Tuesday's work session. If there are no major objections, the agreement will go before commissioners for approval on Aug. 6.

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