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    Oldsmar plan gets rolling

    The city manager lends support to a developer's plans for 4 acres that could figure prominently in downtown redevelopment.

    By ED QUIOCO

    © St. Petersburg Times, published January 12, 2001


    OLDSMAR -- A local developer is taking the first steps for a project that could boost the city's downtown redevelopment effort.

    The city and the Greater Oldsmar Chamber of Commerce have been working with Clearwater developer Jim Woods to iron out the specifics of the proposed development, which would transform 4 acres on the southeast corner of St. Petersburg Drive and Tampa Road.

    Earlier this month, City Manager Bruce Haddock wrote a letter to the Florida Department of Transportation asking that a piece of DOT right of way at the corner be used for a landscaped open area that would complement Woods' development.

    "The proposed development represents a significant step forward for the growth of Oldsmar and our Town Center redevelopment area," Haddock said.

    Haddock sent with his letter a preliminary sketch of the site showing a 100-room hotel and two restaurants. But Woods said that drawing was just one of several options for the property and it is too early to tell what will be developed. He doubted that he would propose a hotel for the site.

    "We plan significant development of that site, but we are unsure as to what the highest and best use is just yet," Woods said.

    The proposed development would be across the street from the Oldsmar Town Center project, which city officials hope will anchor development on the east end of State Street. Woods' proposal also would be on land that city officials view as a gateway to the city and its downtown redevelopment area.

    "It's a valuable piece of property because it is at the entrance of the downtown redevelopment district," said Kevin Gartland, the chamber's president and chief executive officer. "It could come out in many different ways, shapes or forms, but it is good to see a developer interested in that property."

    Woods said he was attracted to Oldsmar by the city's vitality.

    "We like what's going on in Oldsmar," Woods said. "I think it's a good, strong growth market. It's an extension of North Pinellas and northwest Tampa and those two extensions are meshing right in Oldsmar. They are getting pleasantly hammered by both sides of the new growth."

    It will take four to six months of engineering studies, marketing research and site work to determine the best way to develop the property, Woods said.

    Woods said he has a contract to purchase the property from Oldsmar Land Holding Corp., subject "to us getting all of this road work, engineering and subsequent research done," he said. "The ultimate use of the site will depend on that."

    Work already is under way for a Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites on the southwest corner of St. Petersburg Drive and Tampa Road. The hotel, which is scheduled to open in April, will be one of seven buildings in the Oldsmar Town Center, which is being developed by local developer Randy Mears. The project calls for a bank, restaurant and offices.

    Hotel owner and developer Paul Simone said the Holiday Inn will have a beauty salon. All of the rooms will have high-speed Internet access and 46 of the 81 rooms will be business suites.

    Haddock said he wrote the letter to the DOT because the proposed development calls for landscaping the state-owned parcel next to the project and improving access from Tampa Road.

    "We wish to accommodate the owners by assisting with any right-of-way issues," Haddock wrote.

    The city also is looking into whether it could build a sign and entrance feature such as a fountain to the city's downtown area on the state's triangular parcel, which abuts St. Petersburg Drive and Tampa Road.

    "If DOT is willing to transfer the property to the city, then we could do some sort of joint entrance feature on that parcel that would be an entrance to the city and obviously an entrance to their project also," Haddock said.

    Oldsmar is an attractive spot for developments because of the road improvements and the city's central location, Woods said.

    "Land prices are still reasonable in Oldsmar and with the new Tampa Road, it's a straight shot to Countryside and a straight shot to Tampa," Woods said. "There's just a lot happening there. We like the Oldsmar market well enough that I think there are a lot of options for that site."

    - Staff writer Ed Quioco can be reached at (727) 445-4183 or at quioco@sptimes.com.

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