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Investor Ben Mallah scoops up John’s Pass condos, shares vision to develop adjacent hotel

Veronica Brezina

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Local investor and real estate mogul Ben Mallah is planning to develop a new hotel in the John’s Pass Village, next to a newly acquired condo property. 

Mallah, known for his bigger-than-life personality and vlog on real estate dealings, currently owns the marina at John’s Pass. The marina includes Hooters, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Hubbard’s Marina and The Friendly Fisherman.

Mallah recently purchased the Menna’s Landing condominium building in a $3.75 million deal, which is near the site of his planned hotel. 

Menna’s Landing At John’s Pass. Loopnet.com.

Menna’s is a three-story, eight-unit mixed-use condo building at 111 Boardwalk Place, in the adjacent John’s Pass Village.

The units were all owned by Boardwalk Place LLC and consist of four commercial condos and four residential condominiums, along with covered parking underneath.

“It is a large footprint. I plan to incorporate the residential units and build a hotel on a lot I own across from the building,” Mallah told the St. Pete Catalyst

The adjacent vacant lot across the street is next to the parking garage and does not have any structures, Mallah explained. He didn’t disclose further information on building a new hotel on the vacant lot, as it’s in the preliminary stages, but he did say he would like to include ground floor retail.

Menna’s Landing At John’s Pass. Loopnet.com.

Meanwhile, he said the residential units at the 12,570-square-foot Menna’s complex would be renovated and that the existing tenants would not be affected. Mallah does not currently plan to rebrand the building.

“There’s very limited opportunity in a place like this,” Mallah said about scooping up the unique property that faces the historic boardwalk, adding how there’s a growing need for hotel units in the John’s Pass area. 

The buying entity was 111 Boardwalk LLC, which is tied to Mallah. Chris Calhoon of the Calhoon Commercial Group with Smith & Associates handled the transaction for both parties.

In addition to the residential units, there is a restaurant, a mortgage company, a yogurt shop and a collectibles store within the complex.  

“The location is in the heart of one of Pinellas County’s best-known beach attractions and is in a sought-after area by many investors,” Chris Calhoon said. 

The real estate deal was featured in last week’s real estate roundup, which lists the most expensive sales and interesting deals to hit the public records that week. 

Mallah’s hotel properties on the market 

Mallah is currently selling two hotels near Tampa International, including the 263-room Sheraton Suites Tampa Airport Westshore hotel and the 237-room Ramada Tampa Airport Westshore hotel. 

The other two hotels are the Sheraton Orlando International Drive, known for its tall tower design with a globe on its roof, and the Sheraton Suites Fort Lauderdale at Cypress Creek.

Mallah said he wants to sell the hotel properties due to the high cost of maintaining them and the Covid-19 pandemic’s toll on the hospitality industry. 

One of the Orlando properties is under contract and the Ramada Tampa Airport Westshore property is expected to be under contract soon, he said; however, the properties are selling for millions lower than the appraised value, which Mallah directly attributes to the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact. 

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