Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Real estate firm says it's actively trying to sell BayWalk complex in St. Petersburg

Posted By on Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 7:41 AM

click to enlarge Bay_Walk_At_Night

Because there are lots of parts of downtown St. Petersburg that are doing so well, it seems to maybe be a bit annoying for some to bring up BayWalk, but until something ever happens to the entertainment complex, it will continue to stand as a large, lurking mass of nothing that maintains a presence downtown.

News comes this morning that a real estate services company called Colliers International has been retained to list and market the property for sale.

From a press release issued earlier today:

Even though BayWalk has not previously been listed, a number of potential buyers have expressed interest in the downtown St. Petersburg complex in recent months, which led to the decision to market it.

And though BayWalk has struggled the past couple of years, it has a prime location, one block from bustling Beach Drive, and close to such arts attractions as the Chihuly Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts and the new Dali Museum. St. Petersburg's downtown, one of the Tampa Bay region's most walkable areas, has become a bustling destination with a wide variety of shops and restaurants.

Michael Milano, CCIM, a veteran retail specialist who is a managing director at Colliers, will lead the efforts to secure a buyer for the 74,500-square-foot retail complex, which opened in 2000. Mr. Milano has over $2 billion in sales volume since joining Colliers.

We are excited for the opportunity to hlep find the buyer best able to execute a turnaround strategy for the complex," Mr. Milano said. "A return to entrepreneurial ownership could be an excellent fit, and the revitalization of downtown St. Petersburg gives us confidence that we can find a quality buyer."

As the sales effort gets underway, Equity Group will continue to focus on securing tenants for the property, while Ciminelli Real Estate Services continues as the property manager

I suppose I'm a bit nostalgic when it comes to BayWalk because the controversial vote(s) to vacate the sidewalk of the property came just weeks after this reporter began working for CL, and those two votes to ultimately give away public property, advocated by former Mayor Rick Baker because theoretically it would enhance the viability of the property that never happened, is something that those Council members who voted to give away the land have to live with.

Those five members who voted to vacate the sidewalk were: Herb Polson, Bill Dudley, Jim Kennedy, Jamie Bennett and Karl Nurse.

If you'll recall, retailers had said that a significant reason why traffic was down at the mall was because of the frequent protests held condemning the Iraq war and other issues on the 2nd Avenue N sidewalk leading into the complex.  At one point, the political activist group St. Pete for Peace, the leader of many of those protests, announced that they would cease such protests for a year as a show of good faith, as long as the council opted not to give away the piece of land.  It didn't matter, as the Council initially deadlocked at 4-4 before a 2nd vote was held to get the desired decision of the Baker administration.

BayWalk's owners had promised to pump $6 million in improvements into the center if given the sidewalk.  It didn't exactly turn out that way.

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