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    Plans for Safety Harbor property remain unfulfilled

    The owner won't sell the downtown site unless the real estate developer sells six planned condos. So far, four have been sold.

    By LEON M. TUCKER

    © St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2001


    SAFETY HARBOR -- With the exception of a farmers market every Thursday, Walter Loick's property on the corner of Main Street and Bayshore Boulevard has remained quiet.

    No sign of the 75,000-square-foot waterfront village planned for construction there is visible.

    Loick said he would sell the property to Tampa real estate developer Brian Taub if Taub could sell the six condominiums in the development's first phase. Last week, Taub said that goal hasn't been reached, but he is still hopeful.

    "We have four presales, but we turned it over to a Realtor and we're anxious to sell the rest of them," said Taub. "I don't have to sell all of them, but I do want to presale them before we move forward."

    Taub declined to say who he hired to help with the sale of the remaining condominiums. Loick was unavailable for comment.

    Daniel Blignaut, an architect for Atelier Architecture in Tampa, came up with the idea for the mixed-use village and pitched it to Loick and Taub.

    The project's first phase would feature a 17,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style building with six condominiums on the second and third floors and room for three businesses on the bottom. Space for the condos and businesses would range from 1,800 to 2,100 square feet.

    Phase Two would match the first phase's Mediterranean exterior and have 25,000 square feet of space for third-floor condominiums. The rest of the space would be devoted to office, retail and restaurants. The total price for both phases would be $10-million to $14-million.

    "The way I understand it is that if they have six units sold, they will start the construction," Blignaut said. "At the last count, (Taub) had sold four, and one was unconfirmed, so for a moment I was a little bit concerned, but he has hired a real estate agent to help with the sale."

    In the meantime, the property is being leased to the Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce for $1 a year to be used for the farmers market, which is better than no activity, according to officials there.

    "There's nothing happening as far as development, but I'm just grateful that the site is available for use for the farmers market," said Linda Marshall, economic development officer for the chamber. "It has worked out very well, and it is bringing people downtown, which is one of the things we're trying to do anyway."

    Marshall speculated that one of the problems Loick faces with the sale of the property is his asking price. Although the property is appraised at $409,000, the North Carolina developer has asked for $2.2-million for a site where the city has limited construction to three stories.

    "Unless he is willing to be more responsive with the asking price, this could be a tough nut to crack," Marshall said. "But we have a lot of potential on that corner, and I would like to see that property developed."

    Others knew developing the Loick property would take some time and have viewed the presale of the four condominiums there as a "step in the right direction."

    "Any time you have a condo that's going to cost $300,000, it's not going to be an overnight process," said Mayor Pam Corbino. "That property has been empty for a long time, but with the construction of the marina park and the gazebo, it's going to really make it enticing. The condos will sell and that piece of property will be developed."

    - Information from Times files was used in this report.

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