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Redevelopment Project’s ‘Most Important Decision’ Expected Tonight

The Temple Terrace Redevelopment Agency and City Council will have special meetings at the Lightfoot Recreation Center beginning at 6 p.m.

After months of negotiating brought on by developer Vlass Temple Terrace’s proposal to build a 214-unit apartment complex in the downtown redevelopment area, the Temple Terrace City Council is meeting tonight to discuss the project and possibly take a final vote.

The meeting will take place at the Lightfoot Recreation Center.

Vlass’ original proposal submitted in February called for several changes to the master development agreement (MDA), a contract between the city and Vlass that dictates what the developer can and can’t do. Had the measure been approved, Vlass would have received approximately 25 waivers in order to complete the residential portion of the project.

The original plan called for no retail space on the first floor of the residential buildings, a concern for council members and residents, who have stated that they want a walk-able downtown. Vlass contended that getting financing for such a building would be impossible.

So, with Councilwoman Mary Jane Neale casting the dissenting vote. The majority said they didn’t agree with the plan but wanted to work with Vlass to come to a compromise.

Since the council denied Vlass’ original proposal, both sides have been meeting to discuss their terms. The conflict centers on three main topics: ceiling heights on the first floor of the buildings that would make up the residences; how long the first floor would be marketed for retail before being converted to residential; and the amount of parking spaces that are adequate.

On Sept. 25, Vlass submitted its third and final proposal. The revision differs little from what has already been discussed in the last few months.

The council has said ceiling heights should be 14 feet; the Vlass proposal has them at 12 feet. The council has said first-floor retail should be marketed for at least one year; the Vlass proposal has it marketed for six months. The council has said there should be shared parking on the west side of the apartment buildings; the Vlass proposal has designated parking there for apartment residents.

In a letter to Temple Terrace Patch and others, Mayor Joe Affronti called tonight’s special meeting “the most important decision that Temple Terrace will face.”

“You must decide if you feel that ceiling height, parking and marketing differences between staff and Vlass are ‘deal breakers,’” he wrote. “I encourage you to make your feelings known to your council members.”

Council members will first meet as the Temple Terrace Redevelopment Agency (TTRA) at 6 p.m. They are scheduled to review and discuss Vlass’ third revision and possibly make a recommendation to the City Council (themselves).

The City Council meeting will immediately follow. The council is scheduled to consider any recommendations from the TTRA and could vote the project up or down.

The city is inviting the pubic to attend the meetings as public comment will be taken.

To share your opinions with Affronti and council members beforehand, email them at the following addresses:

See also:
Mayor: Impending Redevelopment Vote is ‘Most Important Decision’
City Receives Revised Redevelopment Proposal
Mayor: Redevelopment Project Must Move Forward
Redevelopment Project at Standstill
City Denies Redevelopment Proposal
Developers Give City Ultimatum
Council Postpones Redevelopment Decision

Carol Dell October 09, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Concern citizens need to attend and express their opinions. The ceiling heights on the ground floor of the apartment complex to be built at the NE corner of the Redevelopment and the marketing of the ground floor retail space are key to building the citizens' Vision of a walkable Downtown. These are very important factors that will determine whether the first new building built in the Redevelopment is only an apartment complex or if it has retail on the ground floor as prescribed in the MDA. The 24,000 citizens of Temple Terrace want and deserve to have the stores and restaurants that were promised in the Redevelopment.
Pam Devoid October 09, 2012 at 01:09 PM
To the city council today; The council knows the residents of Temple Terrace are not happy with the developer, the changes they have continuously tried to cram down our throats and their complete and utter disrespect shown towards us as residents, including but not limited to the ridiculous Cool-Aid and bullet statements. Any council member that supports the changes proposed and/or Vlass in anyway has no respect for the residents of this great city. In past meetings and public hearings we have turned out to show our concerns, ask the council to back the residents, actually it was stated to council that they need to remember they represent the residents not the developer. Yet here we go again, our concerns are very well known, but tonight we leave our families at dinner time, our children during their homework and bedtime hours to try and defend what is right. I hope our council does not let us down, this is the last chance for our vision to be realized. It is game time, there are no second chances, do or die, the ball is in your court. In regards to our Mayor, I hope every council person is in attendance tonight because it is obvious he is so deep in the pockets of Vlass we will never receive support from him in any way and the residents would be ill to know he would have any kind of vote. To our Council stay strong, bullies are a dime a dozen, but those who are strong and do no fold will be remembered for their actions long after this journey is complete.
Pam Devoid October 09, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Vlass says they cannot get retail to commit without more residents. Really????? So 214 apartments will get commitment from retailers? I doubt that! I have requested to see the marketing, the efforts shown by Vlass over and over again to obtain retailers, because quite frankly I don’t believe they have made any effort, nor do I believe they care at all about our city or its residents, I believe they have had their own agenda all along, but I am always open to having my opinion changed anytime Vlass would like to step up and show us exactly what they have done in the way of mass marketing to obtain retailers. Now they say we will build retail space on the bottom, the city wants them to give it a year before converting to residential if they cannot find retailers for the space, but Vlass wants the plan to say they will give it six months then convert to residential. Believe me Vlass has no marketing plan to obtain retailers, nor do they have any interest in obtaining retailers, just another agenda by Vlass to deceive the residents of Temple Terrace long enough to get what they want and what they have wanted all along, to eliminate all most all retail in the area and build apartments that we do not need or want. Good luck Vlass, let the games begin.
JS October 09, 2012 at 04:22 PM
I cannot go to this because of work, not because I am at home working on my Golf cart, and we all know who that comment is intended for. I am hoping some citizens asks the pertinent questions: Is the contract with Vlass worth the paper it is written on? And if we pursue legal action, what are the chances we collect one red cent from an LLC set up specifically for this project? Second, if Vlass walks, or is fired, what are the short term and long term "most likely" financial impacts on our city. Does this put us in a possible financial crisis in the future?
Temple Terrace Resident 2 October 09, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Let’s hope that City Council stands strong and sticks with the city staff recommendations of the September 1, 2012 Redevelopment Agency Work Session – - ceiling height of fourteen feet being top of ground floor slab to bottom of ground floor ceiling joist in order to accommodate retail/commercial or other non-residential uses, if we build the first floor too low it will preclude some future commercial and retail from using the space! - marketing 3000 sf of the first floor as retail/commercial for twelve months before converting it to residential or better yet, increase the proposed retail/commercial space on the first floor to 50% of the original retail proposed, or 6000 sf, and leave it as retail/commercial space in perpetuity
Carol Dell October 09, 2012 at 05:04 PM
What are the long and short term impact on our city to build a 214 apartments....with virtually no retail.......where is our walkable downtown....where is the citizens' Vision?
JS October 09, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Those questions are all important too Carol, and need to be asked, I am behind you 100% I find it interesting though that NO one seems to want to answer the financing questions. It is not hard to see why our nation is in the state of near bankruptcy it is, just look at local reactions. If the city is bankrupt in 5 years we won't have a completed redevelopment. What we will have is the inability to raise money for any projects, a much higher tax bill and likely cuts in all of our other services. This cannot be an emotional decision, it has to be based on facts, unfortunately there just doesn't seem to be any facts shared on Patch, just rhetoric. I hope someone will get them tonight.
Concerned Resident October 09, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Even if we set aside the ceiling height, which is actually in City Code as 18 ft -- 14ft was a City comprimise, and if we set aside the Parking Issues, and even the marketing of the first floor as commercial. They are still proposing wood framed, tiny, cheap apartments that would likely convert to a Section *8 Housing Area!! These apartments are not acceptable. We want concrete buildings that will last into the future, we want Luxury Condo's that people will buy with a sense of ownership and investing in our City's Future, we want what we were promised so many years ago when we bought off on this concept, never was there a mention of tiny matchbox apartments if there was we would have said NO. Citizen's need to show up in mass and send a final message to this and the future City Councils, Either build what you promised us so many years ago, or don't build anything at all!!
Pam Devoid October 09, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Without doubt there will be financial issues if the Redevelopment is put on hold or God forbid we get in a legal battle with Vlass. However if the city does not move forward with the residents vision you will have nothing more than 214 more apartments in the city, in an area with no benefit to the mass resident population and people will move to where our vision has already been realized. I am a 39 year resident, but if this does not go right I can assure you I won’t make it much past 40 years, too many other nice places to live with exactly what we have asked for in our city. So pay no, in order to realize our dream. In a meeting someone spoke of the financial ramifications if we terminate with Vlass, and what it could potentially cost each resident, in that meeting the majority said do you want my check now or later because we are willing to pay to have our dream recognized. So proud of our residents, such stamina!
Pam Devoid October 09, 2012 at 06:50 PM
I did a study today of two of the largest Condo developments in our area, Raintree Manor and Meadowood. Our condo’s have done exceptionally well in regards to the real estate market. Most likely due to the aging population of HOME OWNERS we have in the city of Temple Terrace. We have a large population of longtime homeowners looking to downsize, not in apartments but into owned condos. I believe If the city spent a little time and requested the local realtors to review some numbers in regards to how condos in Temple Terrace have fared well in today’s market they might even convince Vlass that they are in fact making a huge mistake and that condos would most likely benefit them more in the long run, just a thought.
JS October 09, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I agree with you Pam. Affronti says the market will not support new condo sales in Temple Terrace. I pointed out that Marbella has started building under the new developer(albeit cheaper structures) and new sales have one again started. The mayor, who should of known this, did not. I asked him, simply, what does Vlass know that Marbella does not? Again, saying everyone in a meeting said "do you want my check now' is an emotional response to a problem that should be decided on the facts. I have yet to hear a single fact, either from commenters on the Patch or our city leaders. Personally, I would be willing to pay much higher property taxes to see the vision met. How much higher? Thousands if need be, but I sincerely doubt if the vast majority in any voting district would be so happy when that bill comes. Especially when the bill comes without a completed redevelopment, a bankrupt city, and no developer.
Carol Dell October 09, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I hope all of you (JS. Pam, Concerned Resident, and Temple Terrace Resident 2) plan to attend and speak tonight. All of your points are valid and need to be heard by the Council and the citizens attending!!!
JS October 09, 2012 at 08:26 PM
I sitting here at work Carol, sorry! I know Affronti says "we should of learned everything at the Town Meetings", but some of us have to work late to fix all those golf carts. You're going to have to tear them up for us!!!
Pam Devoid October 09, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I have been a supporter since day one, many, many years ago, over 15 years ago. I am not emotional, and I would give money. FYI, I am not one of the richest in the Terrace, I joke with people and say I am comfortably poor, but I would do my part to see the city become the place I knew as a child growing up here.
JS October 09, 2012 at 09:18 PM
I didn't single out "Pam" in my statement. I said most residents of Temple Terrace. I didn't single out "Pam's" comment as emotional. I said the comment "do you want my check now" is an emotional one. I didn't say Pam doesn't have the facts. None of us have the facts! My comments do not have the facts either. I can't seem to get them from anybody! Don't personalize and read more into my statement then is there. Your response to my statement is more emotional than factual and we need to move away from that! I would venture to say if the average resident of TT got a new millage on their property tax bumping the bill hundreds to maybe thousands of dollars on a bankruptcy without a completed town center because the developer walked and TT spent several years in litigation the vast majority would not have a smile on their face and say "when do you want my check." Now, no personal offense, but if anyone is (not just Pam lol) making decisions on the future direction of the city without as much of the cold hard facts in your hands than you can get, your making an emotional and not informed decision. We all need to take a deep breath and find out the truth of the present situation. I am not presenting my views on here to slight or degrade anyone (with the exception of our city leaders lol). I want us to NOT make the same mistake twice.
JS October 09, 2012 at 09:20 PM
And for those saying we will SUE the developer. Good luck. It is a new LLC created solely for this project. Someone should ask them about that tonight too. What you want a bet not one of these questions gets a direct answer.......
Pam Devoid October 10, 2012 at 12:20 AM
I did not think you were singling me out JS no hard feelings. Just in from the meeting it appears our council is trying their best to move forward with our vision and keep this project on track. Very pleased with the comments and information I heard tonight, thank you to everyone who has worked so hard for several years to help get this project done, and believe me I hope we can all get together and get back an track an make our dream a reality. Thanks for the comments JS I love that our residents are so loyal to our wonderful city, and it is a wonderful city.
Ashley Reams October 10, 2012 at 12:49 AM
The Temple Terrace City Council has unanimously voted down the residential portion of the redevelopment project that Vlass was proposing. What do you think of the decision?
JS October 10, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Maybe good news. Ashley, do you know if any of the questions raised here by readers of the Patch were brought up and answered? Finances? MDA Contract strength, etc?
Jamie Robe October 10, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Not surprising. I want a walkable, retail and civic oriented downtown. Another apartment complex seems a waste to me or that key space. But I could see their aversion to condos, which seem a dubious investment right now. What this means is that we will have empty fields for a few more years, with higher tax bills on our homes. I can live with that if we eventually end up with a real downtown. I respect that the council voted unanimously - at least we ended up with one unified voice. Thanks Ashley for covering all this so well.
Scott Daves October 10, 2012 at 02:40 AM
JS...no, your questions were not specifically brought up, because they really weren't relevant to the issue at hand. Despite the interpretation of the Mayor's letter last week, this was never about firing the developer, or letting them walk if we disagree. The Council/CRA was clear that we were not "firing" the Developer, we/they just rejected their request. Everyone is still wiling to work together to make this project a success, just not in the way Vlass has been pushing for the last six months. Thank God! The Council could not have been more clear than they were tonight on what they are willing to accept. It is up to Vlass to present something that is at least a compromise toward that vision. This is the last time the current administration will have input on the future of the redevelopment, and that is a good thing. If anyone thinks the next Mayor and Council will be more willing to settle for Vlass's offer , I think they are fooling themselves. Even the current Mayor seemed to finally see the light on this. His comments during the meeting were not his usual "If we don't approve this the city is DOOMED!!!11!!" offering. It was good to see a unified Mayor and Council vote in accordance with the citizens of TT.
Chase October 10, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Vlass not being present himself meant he knew the outcome before the meeting. The good news is council stepped up and did the right thing. The deal with Vlass is not dead, but it will be interesting to see his next move. Either he goes forward with the agreement in place or he pulls out of the project. All of this talk of whether he would sue is nonsense. He has a deadline for each phase of the project, he proposed 26 amendments to the MDA which approved would have opened the flood gates to low end apartments. This was the best possible outcome for the city and again kudos to council for stepping up and for all of us making the citizens voice heard. As I stated last week, the city will not go "broke" over this, it was a scare tactic. The city has multiple options with or without Vlass. Time to move forward to the next step to a downtown center that makes sense for the city and the citizens.
JS October 10, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Not relevant Scott? We shall see how relevant they become further down the road if and when Vlass asks for more and more changes or walks on his own. I try to be confident of the best outcome, but like to be prepared for the worst. The citizens still have no clear cut idea how strong the contract is with Vlass, whether or not the Vlass Temple Terrace LLC is simply an empty shell, and the possible financial consequences thereof. The list of 'oversights' alone in this deal seems to grow each week. Unfortunately, these are questions that should of been ferreted out and answered by city council and staff BEFORE the thing was signed. If the vote tonight was against a company that has little legal responsibility to respond, no financial gain and little real liability if the don't, it was a vote for nothing. I hope you and all the other citizens are right and I am wrong. Unfortunately, the man who ran against Affronti, Tozier said exactly the same thing when he lost the election. I voted for Affronti. I was wrong, Tozier predictions of this redevelopment debacle have been 100% correct, so far...... I am for a no vote, don't get me wrong, but it is also no surprise that everyone voted no to Vlass a few weeks out of November. Those not up for re-election do not want to face their neighbors, and those who are want to win.
JS October 10, 2012 at 12:49 PM
"The city has multiple options with or without Vlass." Hi Chase, could elaborate on those options?
Chase October 10, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Hello JS, I understand that you were busy with workand could not attend the meeting. Basically Vlass agreed to the MDA without any of the proposed changes, therefore he is in a binding agreement with the city for that contract. Yes he can propose as many changes as he would like, but the vote last night assured it would not be for the project he was proposing which is not what he ageed to. So with Vlass he can either finish what he agreed to or he can default and pull out, which his attorney Mr. Smith stated that aren't going to do. If he defaults, then he is in violation of the agreement and would have to deed the property back to the city. Vlass is simply acting as a middle man to sell the project to Inland. Worst case scenario is the City could do the same deal with a developer such as Inland and cut out the middle man, the city would actually make money. Also there are many developers who would take this deal today. Financing this project isn't a problem when you are given 24 million in property. There is no doom and gloom as the city of TT have lost nothing. The project will move on with or without Vlass. Hope this helps.
JS October 10, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Thanks Chase, again I hope you are and the council are right with your suppositions and Mr Tozier ends up being proven wrong. So far his prediction is batting 1000 and that will continue to trouble me. But it is in the hands of people who are trusted to know what is best for all of us and we have to accept that anyway.

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