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Friday, Jul 25, 2014
Politics

Brown vows to obtain permits for apartments


Published:

TAMPA - Two days after he dismantled an illegal, squalid trailer park on his property in Seminole Heights, William "Hoe" Brown, chairman of the Tampa Port Authority, issued a statement Thursday saying he plans to get all the permits he needs to continue operating a five-unit apartment building in a house on the same site.

But City Councilman Frank Reddick, whose district includes Brown's property at 102 and 106 W. Stanley St., said he wants city officials to punish Brown, a longtime real estate investor, for ignoring city rules when he installed the trailer park in 2012.

"I truly believe some type of fine, some type of penalty needs to be put in place," Reddick said.

In a written statement, Brown said his attorney, Gina Grimes, confirmed with city officials that the apartments are allowed on the commercially zoned lot.

City officials told Brown in May to remove the five trailers he had on the site for about a year because they weren't allowed under the city's zoning code. Brown didn't act until city officials visited his property Monday, two months later.

Brown still owns five apartments within the single-story stucco house at 106 W. Stanley St. The building also houses the offices for Brown's real-estate investment company, J.B. Carrie Properties Inc.

The building is part of a portfolio of 16 properties Brown owns stretching from Tampa to Orlando to Alachua County.

That list includes warehouses, timberland, office and residential property, according to a financial disclosure Brown filed as part of his appointment to the port authority. Hills­borough County records show Brown owns eight investment properties, including the two lots on West Stanley Street.

Over the year Brown ran his mobile-home park, Tampa police were called to the property 76 times for complaints including roommate squabbles to burglary.

In March, police investigated the death of Aimee Elizabeth Saul, 38, who was found dead in her apartment at 106 W. Stanley St. She and her husband had moved in about a month and a half earlier, according to police. Saul's death was ruled an accidental overdose.

Next door, at a six-unit motel Brown owns on Florida Avenue, residents called police 47 times over the past 12 months.

In his statement, Brown said he plans to "pursue any necessary permits, licenses, approvals, and inspections that will ensure that the office and apartments are in full compliance with all code requirements so that I may begin any necessary renovations as soon as possible."

Brown and a small crew of men were working on the property Wednesday afternoon, a day after Brown evicted about a dozen tenants from the makeshift mobile-home park and hauled the trailers to an undisclosed location.

Brown gave most of his tenants $1,500 in cash, the equivalent of three months' rent, as compensation. Brown's spokeswoman, Beth Leytham, said they refused any further help.

"Everyone let these people down," said City Councilwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin, who said Brown's business will be a topic of discussion when Tampa City Council returns from its summer recess July 18.

"We're going to have to take this into our hands," Capin said, "because it wasn't done by the administration."

A few tenants have remained in the apartments at the 106 W. Stanley St. site.

v vGrimes said Brown plans to provide the city with a survey and internal layout of the building as he tries to meet all the city's requirements for the property.

The to-do list will include inspections of the building structure, plumbing, electrical and other systems to make sure they're up to code and structurally sound, said Ali Glisson, spokeswoman for Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

If the systems are sound but were done without permits, Brown could be cited and fined. If they're not sufficient, he could be fined and forced to bring them up to par, Glisson said.

One of the things Brown needs is rental certificates allowing him to operate apartments on his property. City officials don't have those permits on file, Glisson said.

"Whatever we have to do to comply, we will do," Grimes said.

v vThat will include paying higher taxes for the properties at 102 and 106 W. Stanley St.

Bill Ward, spokesman for the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office, said Brown will be assessed for the five mobile homes because they were on his property as of Jan. 1.

Because Brown removed the trailers on Tuesday, the appraiser's office is doing an estimate of their worth.

"We can't physically inspect them," Ward said. "So we will use a standard baseline for a mobile home that size."

That estimate comes out to $2,500 a unit, or $12,500 for the set. Brown's total additional tax: $250.

"It's not a lot of money, but it's the principle of the thing," Ward said.

kwiatrowski@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7871

Twitter: @kwiatrowskiTBO

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