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Home Depot could anchor retail center

By DAVE PEDREIRA

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 4, 2000


TOWN 'N COUNTRY -- The long-dormant Hillsborough Square Shopping Center appears poised for a major makeover, with Home Depot serving as the anchor.

The MONY Life Insurance Co., owner of the 14-acre complex on the southwest corner of Hillsborough Avenue and Memorial Highway, has requested a rezoning so it can overhaul the shopping plaza and center it around one of the nation's most popular home repair megastores.

Land use attorney Keith Bricklemyer filed the rezoning request with the county last week. A map of the project shows much of the 207,759-square-foot center will be used for the Home Depot. Bricklemyer said the center would include other "retail areas," but did not elaborate in the application.

The project is a joint venture between the Morin Development Group and Monroe's Prestige Group Inc., records show.

Much of the Hillsborough Square Shopping Center is vacant, and has been for years. A county zoning hearing master is scheduled to hear the rezoning request in August. County commissioners will consider the project in September. (Petition 00-0941).

LUTZ: For years people speculated that a supermarket would be built behind the McDonald's restaurant just off Crystal Grove Boulevard.

Now it looks like a complex of professional offices may take root on the 8.7-acre parcel. Lutz businessman Howard Albritton has requested a major modification for the property just northeast of Pleasant Ridge Place to build a professional center.

Albritton, who owns other professional office complexes in the Lutz area, said Friday that he is looking at a mixed-use facility, but didn't want to comment further until he had talked to local civic groups about his plans.

A permit application filed by Albritton's representatives says the current zoning of the property doesn't allow for "office showroom uses."

The property was previously approved by the county for a supermarket. That deal never materialized, according to Albritton's filed request. A zoning hearing master is scheduled to hear the request in August. (Petition 00-0942).

WESTCHASE: A developer is asking for two more modifications to a residential and professional office development on Linebaugh Avenue.

Americap International Alliance wants to modify its final plans for the parcel of land just west of the future Citrus Park Drive extension, west of Westchase, allowing for more office space and the inclusion of a "financial institution."

Odessa developer Harry Blanton originally won the county's approval to build 300 apartments on the 32-acre site. He also received permission to build up to 12,000 square feet of office space on the eastern portion of the property.

Americap wants to increase the office space to 16,825 square feet. A zoning hearing master is scheduled to hear the request in August. (Petition 00-0939).

NEW TAMPA: The Palm Lake Shopping Center will welcome two new stores in the coming months, but the cluster of shops in Tampa Palms is still seeking an anchor.

Kalyn Brandewie, a co-owner of Florida Retail Partners, said Michael Murphy, a longtime art dealer who owns a gallery in South Tampa, will open a custom framing shop and gallery in July. New Identities, an upscale hair salon, will move from its Fowler Avenue location in September. Both businesses signed leases last month.

"New Tampa is unique because there are a lot of chains out there, but not a lot of boutique businesses," Murphy said. "I think it is an interesting market and is on the verge of exploding."

Brandewie said she is negotiating with two other businesses that are interested in renting the property's vacant anchor store. Food Lion closed its doors in 1994, and the store has not had a tenant since.

The owner of the property is considering splitting the 28,000-square-foot property into two stores, and Brandewie said both prospective tenants are interested in the smaller spaces.

"All along, we kind of suggested it," Brandewie said. "Two draws instead of one. It can be better for the center. [The anchor store was] much too small for a grocery store. It makes sense to explore all the alternatives."

That is what Marc Rockquemore and Kelly Higgs are doing by moving their salon. The engaged couple and partners at New Identities said they wanted to move to a larger location that is closer to their client base. It's also more practical for them.

"We live in Tampa Palms, so it is very convenient for us," Rockquemore said.

-- Staff writer Michael Sandler contributed to this report.

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