Oldsmar’s Market Square Project Still In Development Stage

Plans for the Market Square project.

Oldsmar’s Market Square project is a proposed mixed-use development sitting on 6.6 acres of property adjacent to City Hall.

Efforts to bring Oldsmar’s Market Square project, a mixed-use development located on 6.6 acres of property adjacent to City Hall, have ramped up, with the City Council calling for frequent and detailed updates from the property broker.

During a workshop on April 16, Stephen Grimme, president of Smith Equity Builders, the Tarpon Springs firm charged with brining the project together, updated the council on the progress of the project.

Grimme told the council that after the City signed a memorandum of understanding, signifying it was ready to move forward with the project, his firm began meeting with potential investors. He said that some of the negotiations have hit some snags, while other facets of the proposed project have yet to be worked out.

“The appetite for hotels is waning,” Grimme said in regards to one proposed aspect of the development. “I still like the Hyatt brand, but they’ll want to know what else is going on with the site.”

Stephen Grimme

Stephen Grimme

Other issues that were discussed included the density of the condo/apartment complex to be built, the inclusion or exclusion of a conference center, and whether or not to use the existing Goodrich building as a headquarters for Grimme’s on-site office.

“The worst case scenario, if the Council approves the lease, it runs until 2017, so if the deal falls through, Steve has an office for 18 months,” City Manager Bruce Haddock said. “To me, there’s not a lot of risk to it.”

While some, including Councilmember Eric Seidel, disagreed with using the Goodrich building for a brokerage office, most admitted there were more pertinent issues to deal with in regards to the project.

“If a hotel doesn’t happen, or it’s five years out, what happens with the property?” Vice-Mayor Gabby McGee asked.

“We can do more multi-family, more commercial, or we can cut the grass,” Grimme replied. “There are a lot of options.”

A workshop to discuss the Market Place project on April 16.

A workshop to discuss the Market Place project on April 16.

“There’s a lot of people who want in on this deal with me,” he added. “I’m holding the ball and carrying it down the field…I think we’re getting there.”

At the conclusion of the workshop, Mayor Doug Bevis called for regular updates on the progress of the Market Place project.

“I think we need regular meetings to keep the council informed,” he said. “There are significant enough changes happening to warrant monthly meetings.”

Grimme agreed to meet again in May and update the council on the progress of his talks.

“Right now we are in a great space, and I don’t want to waste your time and I don’t want to waste mine,” he said. “We’ve got to move quickly.”

UPDATE: The Council will meet for its next workshop on the issue on Tuesday, May 26 at 4:00 p.m in the Council Chamber Work session Room.

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