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Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014
Northeast News

City, developer mum after meeting about Temple Terrace downtown redevelopment


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TEMPLE TERRACE - Two weeks after a meeting to discuss the future of the Temple Terrace Downtown Redevelopment District project, neither side will talk about what was accomplished.

Officials from the city's three-member committee and representatives of the developer, Vlass Temple Terrace, signed a confidentiality agreement, banning them from speaking publicly about the details of the meeting.

When contacted this week, representatives from both sides would only say they planned to hold more meetings.

Mayor Frank Chillura, a member of the city's negotiating team, directed a reporter to City Manager Jerry Seeber for an official statement.

In an email, Seeber said the city said it plans to set aside pending deadlines for the developer to complete parts of the project so the two sides can continue talking.

Mike Vlass of Atlanta, the lead developer of the Vlass group, could not be reached for comment.

David Smith, a Tampa attorney representing the Vlass group, said both sides signed a confidentiality agreement to stay focused on working out a mutual acceptable resolution.

The $150 million town center project at the southeast corner of Bullard Parkway and North 56th Street has been at a standstill since March 2012.

In May, Temple Terrace City Council members directed their attorney, Mark Connolly, to draft a default notice to Vlass, reminding the developer of its obligations to satisfy provisions of an agreement reached with the city in 2010 for the project.

At the time, Smith described the default notice to his client as ill-timed and said it could lead to a lawsuit. Smith said his client didn't want to spend more money on the project and suggested possibly pulling out of the deal.

Vlass officials and the city's negotiating team, represented by Chillura, Seeber and Connolly, met on June 6 to speak about their issues.

Several City Council members who are not a part of the negotiations, said this week they had not received any information about the June 6 meeting. But they were confident Chillura, Seeber and Connolly were acting in the best interest of the city.

"I am interested and curious about the outcome of the meeting," Councilwoman Alison Fernandez said. "I'm not worried about it. I'm sure they will tell me in due time."

Councilman Grant Rimbey said as an elected official he would like to participate in the meetings. Based on prior communications with Vlass representatives, Rimbey suspects both sides are trying to find a way to part ways.

That is a sentiment shared by Councilman Eddie Vance.

"I don't have any specific details," Vance said. "We hope to move forward, but we aren't seeing eye to eye."

City leaders formed a partnership with Vlass Temple Terrace in 2010 after Vlass and his partners took the lead to fulfill the city's 10-year dream to create a pedestrian-friendly, "new urbanism"-style town center.

The Vlass team has proposed building a luxury apartment complex on the site. They said the apartment complex is an essential part of the redevelopment plan, because no condominium market exists.

City staffers and members of the Vlass team have struggled to agree on zoning and land-development matters and clash on topics such as first-floor ceiling heights and parking.

kknight@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7413

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