City sells property it has owned for 65 years, clearing path for 16 homes

LARGO — The sale of a property the city has owned for almost 66 years has paved the way for a residential townhome project that officials say fits in nicely with their vision for downtown Largo.

City commissioners, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, voted 5-0 on May 7 to sell the vacant parcel at the northwest corner of First Avenue Southwest and Sixth Street Southwest to Flaggship Holdings, LLC for $20,000. Mayor Woody Brown, who owns a chiropractic office adjacent to the property, abstained from voting.

As part of the agreement, the Largo-based firm, which has said it has already purchased the other three adjoining parcels on the block, will build up to 16 three-story townhomes with rooftop decks.

“We feel this construction type will provide a triple win for community, the city of Largo, and our locally owned and operated business in Largo,” wrote Donald Flagg, Flaggship Holdings’ managing member, in a letter of intent to purchase the property.

The missing piece the firm needed was a vacant single-family lot the city acquired in July 1953. In April 2015, the city transferred ownership of the parcel to the CRA in order to redevelop it in the West Bay Drive Community Redevelopment District.

The land had been purchased so long ago that Economic Development Manager Teresa Brydon said the records didn’t go back far enough to find out how much the city paid for it.

When asked why the city had owned the small lot for so long, even City Manager Henry Schubert, who has worked for the city since 1980, didn’t have an answer.

“You know, sometimes you just have to be patient,” he joked.

The patience has paid off, according to Brydon, who said the project adds a key asset to downtown.

“These are going to be the first for-sale homes that we’ve had in the downtown to be constructed in quite some time,” she said, noting that the West Bay Village townhomes built in 2000 were likely the last.

Adding to the optimism was the announcement just minutes earlier that construction of West Bay Lofts, a mixed-use project on the opposite side of West Bay Drive, would begin in early June.

“I think this (the townhomes) ties in very well with the opposite development,” Commissioner Michael Smith said. “… I really think this is great and going in the right direction.”

Brydon said the two projects, combined with multimodal improvements on the way, will be a great fit.

“The really cool thing is is that it’s not too far away from where we’re talking about putting a midblock crossing in,” she said. “So, it will be real easy for this group of townhouses to be able to access the commercial space on the other side.”

SOURCE: tbnweekly.com