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Briefs: If you need office space, we have plenty

What do you get when you create 11,000 fewer jobs while building 626,000 square feet of new offices?

By Times Staff
Published March 2, 2008


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If you need office space, we have plenty

What do you get when you create 11,000 fewer jobs while building 626,000 square feet of new offices? The Tampa office market has an answer: lots of room to roost. Two of Tampa's three main office markets saw vacancies rise as 2007 ended. West Shore, the region's largest cluster of offices, saw unused space rise from 7.2 to 9.7 percent the past year. Vacancy along the Interstate 75 corridor, including New Tampa, jumped from 13.4 to 14.7 percent. Only Tampa's downtown business district bucked the trend, improving vacancy a tad from 16.4 to 16.3 percent. Though Pinellas County wasn't included in statistics by GVA Advantis, downtown St. Petersburg is suffering from a mini glut, with recent relocations by Bankers Insurance and Progress Energy.

Is Gainesville recession proof?

Those never-ending lists of best places to retire always seem to include the same categories: size of the elderly population, climate, number of doctors, etc. But has anyone peeked at home values and the stock market lately? SmartMoney.com did. In its recent Seven Recession Proof Places to Retire, Gainesville is ranked first, followed by Ithaca, N.Y., and Orlando. Rounding out the field are Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; San Antonio, Texas; and Tucson, Ariz. Gainesville got the nod because the average sales price for existing homes was $211,100 last year, down just 1 percent from 2006.

He wants a taxi crackdown

Limo operator Moshe Leib has ratcheted up his feud with Hillsborough County transportation regulators. Leib wants a state judge to make the county's Public Transportation Commission crack down on out-of-county taxis and limos. Those companies don't need a Hillsborough license to drop off customers inside the county. In a recent suit, Leib says the policy violates state law. If he wins, taxis and limos from Pinellas and other counties could need a Hillsborough license to take customers to places like Tampa International Airport. Leib is suing the commission for denying his application to run a hybrid Toyota Prius as a limo.

No, not that Freedom Bank

Freedom Bank of America, a small St. Petersburg community bank, is suffering a case of mistaken identity. Some customers are calling Freedom CEO Bob Blakley and his employees worried about rumors of problems loans. Trouble is that's another Freedom Bank in Florida - one based in Bradenton - that has lost millions and is accused by its former senior lending officer of concealing its true financial condition by downplaying its bad loans. The St. Petersburg bank, which sits at $94-million in assets after three years, is happy staying Pinellas County-centric, Blakley said, and has no plans to journey south. The Bradenton bank has been a thorn from the outset. When Freedom Bank was formed, Blakley and fellow organizers wanted to keep it simple. But they were forced to change their name to Freedom Bank of America. Why? Their Bradenton namesake had obtained the Freedom Bank charter a couple of months earlier.

[Last modified February 29, 2008, 21:57:04]


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