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Final Deal Draws Closer for Downtown Gateway Project

With a looming deadline for developers to close on the second half of the six-years vacant Gateway Project lot in downtown Dunedin, city staff and Pizutti Builders are looking to firm up a final price. The negotiations may mean another 180-day extension

The deadline for developers to finish buying the second half of a vacant downtown Dunedin lot across from the hospital is approaching fast.

And six years after initially brokering a deal, they may get another 180-day extension on Thursday.

Pizzuti Builders, part owners of a 4.1-acre prime downtown parcel at Main Street and Milwaukee Avenue, received an extension in August after revealing the initial plan to turn the site into a block mixed with apartments and retail space. Builders wanted a better deal on the final price tag, one that took into account the economic downturn.

Commissioners will discuss the developer's looming deadline with the city, possible sale figures and updated plans for the site, which include fewer apartments and more retail than the first proposal at their March 7 public meeting at City Hall.

Pizutti's latest plan calls for 124 high-end apartments, in the $880- to $1,200-a-month range, and up to 24,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. That is a decrease in living space of 12 units and a 10,000-square-foot increase of retail or restaurant space.

"The addition of residents living in downtown would also support the various existing shops and restaurants located downtown and City-wide," city documents say. The plans also caught the attention of popular Palm Harbor restuarant The Lucky Dill.

The final price for the second half of the land is still up in the air.

Pizutti promised to purchased the vacant land in two phases for an agreed total price of $2.1 million in 2007. To date, the company has purchased one part for $1.2 million. The builders have pointed to the recent economic plight for its slow progress.

City Manager Rob DiSpirito maintains that the company "has remained a steadfast partner" to Dunedin, explaining in city documents that Pizutti has shelled out $3.3 million in infrastructure improvements and land since its 2007 purchase.

The city's most recent land appraisal, however, put the fair market price of the remaining parcel under $1 million, at $746,000, in April 2012. A second appraisal for a third parcel known as the Jernigan tract, totaled $252,000 in fall 2011.

Pizutti and city staff want to strike a final deal. 

To do so, staff is proposing a final sale price of $998,000 — the combined cost of both remaining tracts — along with a slew of incentives, including a discount on development fees for donating the entire Jernigan part as public parkland, waiving building permit fees (which was also given to Achieva Credit Union) and other discounts.

If commissioners agree with the concept, staff is asking for a 180-day extension for Pizutti to finalize the sale.

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The public can attend Thursday's meeting at Dunedin City Hall or watch the meeting live beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Dunedin TV on Channel 615 for Bright House customers or Channel 15 for Knology and Verizon customers.

Related Coverage:

  • Lucky Dill Interested in Dunedin Gateway Location
  • Vacant Gateway Lot Gets More Time

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