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Mayor: Redevelopment Project Must Move Forward

Temple Terrace Mayor Joe Affronti says the downtown plan is good for the city.


From Mayor Joe Affronti:

I have read the , and it appears that there is a misunderstanding regarding the Developer's obligation under the MDA (Master Development Agreement).

As we have repeatedly stated at our Town Hall meetings, the developer is under no obligation to build condos but is obligated to build “multi-family.” As they have stated, they would like to build condos, but there is no market for them at this time, and it is almost impossible to obtain bank financing to build them. One of the largest and most highly qualified real estate investment companies, Inland Atlantic, has proposed to build 214 high-quality apartments that will increase our density and be more attractive to potential retailers. Under the old Torti Gallis Plan, they were proposing to build more than 1,100 residential units in the same area.

I agree that the green space looks great, but, unfortunately, the green space will not generate any revenue to service the $24 million debt that the City of Temple Terrace has incurred for our redevelopment effort.

The original and current intent of our redevelopment is to create a sense of place, get rid of the blight, create a mixed-use walkable community, create jobs and increase our tax base that would be invested in our city to benefit all citizens. In our last budget workshop, our chief finance officer reported that our overall property values are projected to decrease by 4 percent next year, but the property values in our redevelopment area are projected to increase by 1.7 percent. This is a good indication of how a completed redevelopment project could benefit our city financially.

No one will disagree that what has been done by , thus far has been wonderful in transforming the once blighted area to a beautiful beginning of our new Town Center. Since our initial Town Hall meeting in February, Vlass has made many changes to their initial plan based upon the concerns of our citizens.

The option of not moving forward with this project, in my opinion, would put our city in a very precarious financial position. We absolutely need to move forward with this project.

Jerome Schine July 06, 2012 at 01:55 PM
The Mayor is right on target.......condo development is almost down to zero due to lack of financing currently. The revised plan is an inprovement over the 1,000 plus apartments originally planned. As for the question about the source for property values, this is obviously based on the County Property Appraiser's tentative report to loval governments and agencies who depend on property taxes as a source or revenue.
Quentin July 06, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Joe I supported you until you started blindly preaching the gospel of a charlatan preacher. This project has devolved into a morass of back room deals and unfulfilled promises. IT is no longer whats good for Temple terrace and is all about what is good for Vlass. You are the conductor for the Vlass happy train. I do not feel you care anything about Temple Terrace but you care EVERYTHING about your new buddy Vlass. November is around the corner the sooner the better. When you leave take your statue too. Much like the statues of Stalin they are outdated and do not fit anymore. Please go quietly into that good night and become the most silent private citizen you can because you've proven you are no longer able to represent anyone (except your new buddy)
Chase July 06, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Jerome, D.R. Horton and other building companies are still building condos/townhomes and selling them. This is just an excuse for Vlass. Vlass has not even completed his end of the deal for the beginning phases. So he put a facelift on the Sweetbay complex and tore down the old Publix, these were the easy parts. This all comes down to maximizing profits, they want to develop the cheapest way possible. Call Vlass about leasing some space by Sweetbay, see how much they are charging per foot. Compared to other leasing opportunities in the area I think you will be shocked.
JS July 06, 2012 at 02:16 PM
You may have "said" the developer is under no obligation to build condos at Town Hall meetings but you sold this boondoggle to the people as mixed use with 'CONDOS". What about citizens who did not attend Town Hall meetings? They were sold on the concept of "CONDOS". You can put lipstick on your pig Affronti, but it is still a pig. Don't try and put the fault for this off on someone else. Wood frame apartments will kill this project. Your already renting to trash commercial tenants. This is not Washington DC or Chicago Mr Mayor. We are not going to let you and your cronies do as you please. WE DO NOT WANT CRAPPY WOOD FRAME SECTION 8 APARTMENTS, PERIOD, end of story. Get your head out of rump and do the will of the people or resign.
Jason Richardson July 06, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Green space has shown in urban planning literature to consistantly bring higher value to surrounding commercial spaces. New York's Central Park is the best example but any town square or modern city center is clustered around some sort of public space. Plant City has one and Tampa is finding the new open park space on the river brings throngs of people down to patronize surrounding businesses. Increased capital flow will remake the ample commercial space already in existence. This is not a new concept. You are rebuilding your downtown and making the same mistakes Tampa and St Pete made with Baywalk and Centro Ybor, it has taken decades for them to recover from those debacles, can Temple Terrace afford that kind of recovery? While seeking advice for this project the city has consistantly failed to avail itself of local experiences and resources. You aren't remaking the wheel here. The USF Department of Geography, Environment, and Planning can provide support and evidence that your consultant from UCF seemed to ignore in his presentation. Developments like the one you're planning must been seen in the larger context of your city, not as a closed system. Jason Richardson M.A. 2012 USF Dept Of Geography, Planning, and Environment
Richard Diaz July 06, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I agree with Carol,Lucinda,Chase,JW and Quentin
Lucinda Johnston July 06, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Mr. Schine, when you say obviously this came from the County Property Appraiser's tentative report, do you mean you know this for sure or are you guessing? If the mayor is going to throw figures around he should cite them appropriately so they can be verified.
Temple Terrace Taxpayer July 06, 2012 at 03:28 PM
TAXPAYER'S OPINION TO MAYOR’s THOUGHTS: Let's think about current state of affairs, what do Temple Terrace taxpayers have to be concerned about? THE CITY’S LEADERSHIP…..all current problems are the result of previous government fixes for what private real estate developers should have speculated/risked their own $$$ and built according to existing city development codes. Why does Mayor always think citizens have a “MIS-UNDERSTANDING” of what he did? Affronti got the Bronze for his redevelopment efforts. As Councilman & Mayor without letting the taxpayers vote to approve, he helped purchase land at inflated prices with lease obstacles to redevelopment, he signed the contract terms (MDA) with developer Vlass then cast deciding vote giving Vlass title to land which taxpayers are still paying approx $23 million in loans for after he help turn down first 2 developer who offered actual $$$ to purchase the same land. AND NOW HE HAS THE NERVE TO SAY... “he believes lack of new jobs business expansion and economic growth was result of government’s intervention in the private sector with rules regulations and dictates that inhibit growth.” Thats Unbelieveable not misunderstood!
Lucinda Johnston July 06, 2012 at 03:29 PM
I agree with you on the statue issue. From what I've been able to figure out the developer worked with the mayor's wife to surprise him with a statue that cost thousands of dollars. What have the mayor and his wife done to deserve such a nice gift from a developer? Makes you wonder, doesn't it.
JS July 06, 2012 at 03:31 PM
AWESOME comment Jason. Thank you.
JS July 06, 2012 at 03:34 PM
100% correct Chase, Marbella on Fowler has begun building out it's empty lots. What does Vlass know they do not? Vlass knows it will not line their pockets like they want.
Carol Dell July 06, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Jerome, these developers have no intention to fulfill the retail component of the Revelopment Plan....this is what is important to make a Town Center for our city. Carol Dell
annoyed July 06, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Maybe section 8 apartments would work for this area because we need more people to support the stores in the development...like the $5 fashions.
Jennifer Moriarty July 06, 2012 at 05:32 PM
As a Temple Terrace resident since 1994, I want my property value to increase not decrease. I want homes or condos NOT APARTMENTS. In my opinion, apartments are neither pedestrian or family friendly and they tend to be fenced with locked gates. Rumor has it that we lost a chain restaurant because the overall income of the nearby apartment residents was not high enough to support the business.
Carol Dell July 06, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I would be interested in knowing how the candidates for Mayor and City Council feel about this issue. I guess we can find out at the Forum to Introduce Temple Terrace Candidates sponsored by the Temple Terrace Bar Association at the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club on Tuesdday, July 10 at 6:30 p.m. ( or 6 pm as I have seen in some places). Carol Dell
Lucinda Johnston July 06, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Not to mention all of the check cashing businesses!
Linda Beckman July 06, 2012 at 06:57 PM
If getting reid of blight is a concern, putting up an apartment complex next to a section 8 apartment complex (Doral) seems like community cognitive dissonance. What "upscale renter" would choose to rent next to section 8 housing. The preponderance of aging,low-end rentals in this area is exactly WHY we have low-end retail and building more apartments will only perpetuate this problem. Leave to land undeveloped until the market picks up.
mortgaged July 06, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Look no further than Doral Oaks next door for excellent example of one time good solid renters driven out by section 8 and a renovation to compete with hot new areas elsewhere. Redeveloped Downtown has a shelf life as "new and attractive" to renters and when the bloom is off the lilly as they say, good renters will move on to another location while those relying on the taxpayers to pay their rent will stay....trapped by their situation. Why else would Vlass build "high end rental units to Section 8 requirements of no retail on first floor and wall? He ain't dumb!
TT resident July 06, 2012 at 07:43 PM
The problem with the land staying as it is now is that homeless people have been using the fountain to bathe in and the sidewalk as a public restroom.
Scott Daves July 06, 2012 at 07:53 PM
It seems to me that our city was put in "a very precarious financial position" when we gave the property to the Developer at no cost. The economy was as bad then as it is now, so it's not as if the current environment should be a surprise. As Councilmen Pogorolich has brought up many times, the Developer appears to be holding Phase III hostage until he and the Mayor (but I repeat myself) get what they want for Phase II. I get that we are going to have to accept apartments because that or the way the MDA was written. That's fine; let's move on. What I don't get is why our elected Mayor seems to be more invested in the desires of the Developer than the desires of his constituents. It seems as though the Vlass team and the Mayor want to follow the MDA to the letter where it helps them (apartments), but not where they disagree (retail). You should not get to "pick and choose" when you see fit on this important project.
History buff July 06, 2012 at 08:05 PM
We could always use this vacant town center the way those at plymouth plantation did...As a pillary, we could put up stocks and let the responsible leaders take their turn in them. As the citizens of this walkable city go by they can discuss the city's plan. Kind of historical don't you think, besides the beginnings of redevelopment plan foolishness came from the NE Urban area redevelopment not our suburban community.
Richard Diaz July 06, 2012 at 09:29 PM
I'm so proud of those that speak up for what is right , wanted and agreed too.The mayor sold you out for a statue, is the city manager is leaving ?
Glen Arven July 08, 2012 at 04:31 PM
If any other communities are following our Redevelopment "progress" they must be laughing by now. It has been 12 years in the making, and there is still nothing to show for it. Let's see, what do I want to do? Go walk in a vacant parking lot covered with grass or stay home and protect my home from a "snatch and grab" burglary . There is nothing much else to do. Some how shopping at the Five Dollar clothing store and watching people practice self defense techniques isn't my idea of a night out in downtown Temple Terrace. I will admit that climbing the steps to the post office once or twice is good exercise. I could go a few blocks north OR south and experience one of our many wonderful Hookah lounges!! Something for everyone - real family activities - that's what we were promised. I would sell my house and leave TT, except that property values around here have bottomed out. It is so sad to see how a wonderful community has fallen into disrepair (I have lived here since 1975). Could it be we should clean house at City Hall? Is it time for a new City Manager? We all know it is time for a new Mayor.
Steve Wiley July 08, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Where is all this negativity coming from? Enough with the personal attacks; it is demeaning and embarrassing. Remember, this is a plan we all agreed to, and this is the third developer. We all want an attractive and safe downtown, but what we also want and need is revenue. In fact, it is the fiduciary responsibility of our elected officials to keep our city on a firm financial footing. This can only be achieved with the successful completion of our development . I firmly believe that the majority of our residents are in favor of this project. So, lets come together and work with the developer to make it happen.
Carol Dell July 08, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I agree...the citizens are in favor of the completion of the Downtown Town Center that they were promised and not an apartment complex with no retail. The personal insults and comments do nothing to help us move forward to complete our Redevelopment complex. Carol Dell
Glen Arven July 08, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Twelve years is a long time to wait.
Quentin July 08, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Wiley you are smoking some good stuff. WE did not agree to this or anything close to it. This deal was done in a back room and done on a night where an opponent councilman was gone and PROMISED no vote would take place. It was voted on and magically the paperwork was ALREADY TYPED UP. It was signed in the back room right after the meeting was done so there could be no re vote. The majority of the residents who are not idiots do not support this pig. As far as fiduciary responsibility goes YOU GAVE AWAY 22 MILLION DOLLARS. so much for that thought. right now the city is cutting everything AGAIN as they have done for the past 5-6 years because they do not have any money in the coffers to cover the bills. They are still paying on the property though and now cutting personnel and services. so Vlass won't be put out or anything he'll be doing fine with this deal. Let's come together all right, to throw this bum out, take back the property and do it properly. New mayor, new City manager new councilman should be able to put this close to the right track. Wishing or wanting does not make it happen. Negativity is a point of view. Yours is obviously skewed...badly
Don Lack July 09, 2012 at 12:28 PM
I agree 100%
Joe Affronti July 09, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Quinten: Talk abour "badly skewed" you appear to be the master. The June 30 2009 Special Council meeting was set well in advance and all Council Members kinew that this was going to be a meeting to vote the proposed MDA up or down. Every Council Member ws initially called before setting the meeting date and ALL members initially agreed with the date. It was after all arrangements were made that one Council Member decided to go out of town. After many months of negotiations and costing our City many thousands of dollars we called this special meeting. The meeting started at 9:00 AM and at approximately12:00 noon I suggested that the attorneys for both parties meet to try to resolve the outstanding issues.. The attorneys worked out all of the legal issues and at approximately 2:00 PM the Attorneys,Staff, Council Members and Vlass's Team reconvenied in the "back room" and and reviewed each legal issue point by point to mke sure both parties were in agreement. With all legal issues resolved three of us decided that based upon our consultant's conclusion that our City would receive a great financial benefit we voted to accept the terms of the MDA. It was never intended to meet without a vote,that was the purpose of the meeting. The papers were drawn up that evening to reflect the modifications made to the MDA as a result to the meeting between Attorneys. How could they possibly been made up in advance without knowing what if any modifications would occurr READ THE MINUTES
Temple Terrace resident July 09, 2012 at 08:00 PM
http://templeterrace.patch.com/articles/mayor-responds-to-reader-comments

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