A local developer has plans to build a 50-unit town home community on four acres next to the Oldsmar Public Library, but the City Council recently postponed a vote on the sale of the land until they have more information about the development.
While the possible development of a vacant parcel of land next to the Oldsmar Public Library appeared to be on a fast track after the City Council approved a zoning change in July, that same governing body slammed the brakes on the deal just as quickly Tuesday evening.
Faced with an agenda item seeking approval of a purchase and sale agreement for 3.79 acres of the St. Petersburg Drive property with developer Oldsmar Towns, LLC. for $877,000, paving the way for a 50-unit town home community to be built on the land, two council members expressed reservations about the proposal, for vastly different reasons.
Council member Eric Seidel’s argument against the item stemmed from his belief that the property could be worth a lot more than the proposed selling price.
“I know the appraisal that we had done on the property was based on a different use, a pure commercial use, and none of want that type of development there,” Seidel said.
“Having said that though, I think before we approve an agreement we should have it appraised for the use that we ‘re intending it to ultimately be, so we know how we’re doing on market price.”
Seidel went on to note “the appraisal that came in on this property was substantially higher. It was, if I’m not mistaken, somewhere around $500,000 per acre, and this is almost four acres.”
He suggested the City spend the money to have a new appraisal done “so we know if the offer is in line with the value of the property.”
Council member Jerry Beverland then emphatically stated his disapproval of the project based on what he hadn’t seen.
Oldsmar City Council member Jerry Beverland.
“I don’t know how in the world anyone can vote for this tonight and you don’t even know what’s going there,” Beverland, who was present despite the fact he unexpectedly lost his 54-year-old son, Shawn, a week earlier, said. “You think you know what’s going there. But you haven’t seen anything that’s going there.
“I’ll tell you right now, I’m not voting on anything until I see what’s going there,” he added. “This whole thing is backwards.”
The longtime local lawmaker was referring to a development agreement with architectural renderings, heights, elevations and other statistics of the proposed 50-unit town home community.
The units are expected to be three-story upscale town homes, priced in the high $200,000 to low $300,000 range.
A rendering of the preliminary site plan for the 50-unit town home community proposed for St. Petersburg Drive in Oldsmar. (City of Oldsmar)
When City Manager Bruce Haddock, who was participating in his final meeting following a 31-year career with the city, noted the applicant had submitted a preliminary site plan and they would also receive approximately $400,000 in impact fees from the project, Beverland was unfazed.
“Money cannot buy the value of what the city is,” he said, noting he estimated there were several hundred oak trees on the property. “They could offer five million dollars, and I wouldn’t care.”
Beverland conceded the project “would probably be great,” but he “would not vote for something I haven’t seen.”
At that point, Mayor Doug Bevis suggested postponing the vote.
“What I suggest is that we can push this back and make it on the same agenda as the development agreement where we can have a chance to review the site plan and address both items at the same time,” Bevis said, adding “if we don’t approve the development agreement, then we don’t approve the sale.”
When Seidel again suggested having the property appraised, and noted he knew of other parties interested in the property as well, they all agreed to allow the commercial real estate firm the City is contracted with give an estimate of the value of the property as it relates to the offer.
Developer Tony Tanico of Oldsmar Towns, LLC.
During the officials’ discussion, the developer stepped to the podium to clarify his desire to bring “beautiful, three story upscale town homes” to a city he once called home.
“I have nothing but the best of intents for this property,” Tony Tanico, a former 10-year resident of Oldsmar with an extensive development background, told the council. “I want this to be a quality project. It’s my community, too. I want to be proud of it and I promise you you will be proud of it when it’s done.”
Tanico went on to say “it will be a great project. It will be beautiful. It will fit the area, architecturally it will fit the Town Center code, and in my opinion, exceed it.”
While he admitted that “appraisals make me nervous,” Tanico assured the five council members that the next time he came before them, they would be able to view the plans for his project.
“In terms of the site plan you know what you’re getting. In terms of the renderings, you don’t,” he said. “But you will, and at that time you certainly can vote no, I’m not telling you how to vote, obviously.
“But I want you to vote so we can proceed with this project, get that development agreement negotiated, get those renderings in there and…bring a great, quality project to downtown Oldsmar. And that’s what I want to do. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Beverland and Seidel both said they had no doubts that the project would be a high-quality one. They just have concerns that they feel need to be addressed before greenlighting the sale of the land.
A rezoning request was recently approved for a one-acre slice of land adjacent to the Oldsmar Public Library, potentially paving the way for a 52-unit town home development to be build on the site.
“I have no doubt it will be a fine project,” Seidel said. “But I’m not just gonna take your word that it’s worth what it’s worth because you said it is. And I’m sure you can appreciate that, right?”
“While you spent tens of thousands, we spent hundreds of thousands buying that property over many, many years. So, what’s fair is fair.”
The council members ultimately agreed to delay the vote on the purchase and sale of the land until the developer brings a development agreement to them for approval.
Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis.
After the meeting, Bevis spoke to Oldsmar Connect about the council’s decision to postpone the vote.
“I don’t know what the thought process was approving the sale prior to the development agreement being approved,” Bevis said by phone Wednesday. “It seems (backwards) to me unless there’s a timing issue with their lender. I’m not sure. These deals are all different, but typically you come in with a development agreement first.”
Bevis said he believes the project will still come before the council for a vote in the future, but it’s contingent on a few things.
“I think it will,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s about making sure we get the right price for the property and it being profitable on their end.”