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Tampa threatens to sue Centro Ybor developers
By Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer
Published March 4, 2008
TAMPA - City officials are looking to sue the original developers of Centro Ybor for defaulting on payments of a $9-million federal loan used to help build the struggling retail and entertainment complex.
The city took over those payments in 2004 when the developers said they could no longer make them.
That's costing taxpayers about $750,000 a year.
In October, the city sent a letter to Sembler/Ybor Ltd. and its Centro Ybor partners saying past-due payments on the loan dating back to 2004 needed to be made within 10 days.
After receiving no payments, the city hired a forensic accountant to compile financial information on the companies.
"The question is whether or not they have any liability and whether they have any assets," said City Attorney David Smith.
The Sembler Co. and Ohio-based Steiner + Associates developed Centro Ybor through companies established specifically for the project.
"We can't speak for the other partners," said Amber Overby, a spokeswoman for Sembler/Ybor Ltd. "But we personally are in ongoing negotiations with the city to resolve the matter."
Centro Ybor opened in 2000 in hopes that it would jump-start development in Ybor City.