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Places This Week: Local staple Kissin’ Cuzzins lists; Trop talk

Veronica Brezina



The Kissin' Cuzzins restaurant in St. Petersburg. GoogleMaps.

A weekly roundup of local real estate deals.


Kissin’ Cuzzins business is for sale

The longstanding St. Petersburg restaurant at 951 34th St. N., operating since the 1960s, is now for sale. 

The Rice Family is asking $2.49 million for Kissin’ Cuzzins, both the business and their property, according to a listing from Coldwell Banker Realty.

The purchase price includes the land, 34,000-square-foot building, business, all commercial kitchen equipment, security system, furniture and fixtures. 

The business and property are for sale as Gerry Rice, son of Kissin’ Cuzzins’ founder, is preparing to retire after working in the family business for over 50 years, according to the listing

“Everyone who knows Gerry knows that his passion is fishing multiple times a week and that is what he does – and for over 10 years has dreamed of fishing more and traveling, too. And, now he is going to do just that,” Bill Tourtelot with the Tourtelot Group, who is representing the seller, wrote in the listing. 

In an interview with the St. Pete Catalyst, Tourtelot described his personal ties with the business and that he too understands the legacy of the generational family-run business as he is continuing to operate his family’s real estate firm, founded by his grandparents in 1928.

“I’ve been eating at Kissin’ Cuzzins since 1962 when my parents would go there after church, just as many people have over the years,” he said regarding the loyal customer base. 

Breakfast dishes at Kissin’ Cuzzins. Facebook image.

For years, the restaurant was only open for breakfast and lunch, with Gerry Rice usually working only one day per week.

The listing read the business produces an annual net income of over $450,000.

Tourtelot said he did a best-use analysis of the site and found that operating the business as-is would yield the most value. 


Redington Beach hotel sells, will undergo renovations 

The DoubleTree Beach Resort by Hilton Hotel Tampa Bay – North Redington Beach is now under new ownership and will undergo an extensive renovation. 

The seven-story resort at 17120 Gulf Blvd. has been sold to South Carolina-based OTO Development, which is part of The Johnson Group, for $65.92 million.

DoubleTree Beach Resort by Hilton Hotel Tampa Bay – North Redington Beach. Facebook image.

The buyer also took out a $69.8 million mortgage loan from Fifth Third Bank National Association. 

The 125-room hotel, built in 1987, boasts beachfront views of the Gulf of Mexico and is the home of the Mandos Restaurant and Tiki Bar. 

The transaction was brokered by The Plasencia Group. 

DoubleTree Beach Resort by Hilton Hotel Tampa Bay – North Redington Beach. Facebook image.

OTO will immediately implement scaled efficiencies in operations, revenue management and marketing support. The physical renovation is planned to begin in late summer 2023 and will comprise a total refresh in all common spaces, upgrades in the guest rooms and enhancements to the exterior. The hotel will remain open during renovations and, upon completion, will continue under the DoubleTree by Hilton flag, according to the company’s news release. 

“We are so intrigued by this DoubleTree, which has long been loved for its ideal location and resort-style amenities,” Corry Oakes, CEO of OTO Development, said in the release. “There’s an incredible opportunity in combining an individual hotel’s attributes with our company’s scaled operational efficiencies.”


Restaurant in the Edge District to close

The Karma Juice Bar and Eatery is shutting the doors of its Edge District space at 1113 Central Ave. 

The closure will be effective as of Aug. 1.

The multitenant building at 1113 Central Ave. GoogleMaps.

Flyers at the restaurant indicate its new location at 1804 4th Street N. is open and another new location will open on Beach Drive. 

The juice bar moved into the Central Avenue location in 2019 following a fire incident at its former space at 209 1st Ave. N, which now houses the Lily Rose Jewelry Co. crystal and jewelry store. 


Permits filed for Deuces Rising 

The City of St. Petersburg and Mills and Associates Inc. has filed a stormwater permit for the construction of townhome and commercial development as part of the redevelopment of the Deuces. 

The project, which is across from the Manhattan Casino, is a proposed 3.16-acre community on the north and south side of Fairfield Avenue between 22nd St. S and 23rd St. S. The development would entail 24 affordable townhomes, two commercial buildings and a commercial temporary parking lot. 

A rendering of the Deuces Rising corridor from the Sankofa Vision Group.

The proposed Commerce Park/Deuces Rising development area was previously used for residential homes and other commercial/industrial businesses before being purchased by the City of St. Petersburg for development. The city has since tapped the Sankofa group to spearhead the project. 

The multi-pronged Sankofa project, which will also include a digital and technology business incubator, is expected to break ground later this year. 

The entire project was estimated to cost $16 million; however, that number has spiked closer to the $25 million range, according to a report represented in May

Sanfoka said it hopes to complete the development by 2023 with tenants moving in after.


Trop talk: What the public wants

Earlier this month, St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch kicked off the first of three community input sessions regarding the future of the 86-acre Tropicana Field/Gas Pant District site. 

“Nearly 40 years ago after the Gas Plant community was uprooted for the successful pursuit of baseball, you now have the opportunity to bring the promises of jobs and equitable development to fruition,” Welch said during the first meeting on July 12. “One of the longstanding questions surrounding the Gas Plant redevelopment has always been our Tampa Bay Rays. To provide certainty, this RFP [request for proposals] will call for a modern home for the Rays, but I want to send the right context with you tonight – this is not just a stadium project, it is a community redevelopment project.” 

The second Tropicana Field/Gas Plant District community input session was held at St. Petersburg College. Photo by Veronica Brezina.

The city had a lineup of speakers from for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco counties, Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg and city staff members, including Brian Caper, manager of public-private partnerships for the city, showing an aerial image of Tropicana Field and the 50-plus underutilized acres surrounding the stadium and comparing it to how other cities across the U.S. have redeveloped its stadium sites

Thus far, there have been two community sessions, with the most recent held July 19 at the St. Petersburg College-Gibbs campus. 

The questions projected on the screen for the in-person audience to answer asked what would be the most important feature element in the redevelopment and one word to describe the future site, what is the most effective strategy to create affordable housing and what should be considered when creating business and workforce opportunities at the site. 

For the first question, the city staff was met with similar responses seen in both sessions with words such as “homeownership,” “mixed-income housing,” “innovation,” “work space” and “city-owned.” 

Concerning how to overcome affordable housing demands and the workforce development component, the crowd’s responses varied with suggestions of creating social housing, work programs and attracting jobs there that pay a living wage – as well as allowing flexible commercial leases and addressing transportation needs. 

The last session will take place July 28 at the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus and it will be streamed. 


St. Pete restarts the process for the Tangerine Plaza redevelopment 

The City of St. Petersburg is accepting new proposals for the redevelopment of Tangerine Plaza, which once housed a Sweetbay supermarket and a Walmart Neighborhood Market. Residents living near the site, located at 1794 22nd St. S., were left without a neighborhood grocer when it closed a few years ago. The city bought the plaza after the Walmart Neighborhood Market closed in 2017. 

The city was in the process of negotiating a term sheet with prospective developer Sugar Hill Group LLC to open a grocery store in the shuttered plaza along with affordable housing, an esports gaming business and retail; however, the city is now restarting the process and opening the floor to other developers after receiving a new proposal from Sugar Hill. 

Tangerine Plaza today. File photo.

The Sugar Hill Group, whose partners include Louis Murphy, Roy Binger and New Urban Development, said it would build 115 affordable family housing units and 10,000 square feet of commercial or retail space. 

The Sugar Hill Group proposes to enter a 75-year ground lease with the city. Payment for the ground lease will be $1.5 million in the form of a capitalized lease payment. Sugar Hill would also have the right to negotiate the purchase of the city-owned land throughout the duration of the ground lease. The total development cost would be roughly $37.3 million, including debt, funding and equity. Sugar Hill would work with Red Stone Equity Partners to purchase up to $19 million of tax-exempt bonds to construct the property and provide permanent financing, according to a letter from Red Stone. 

New alternative proposals from developers wanting to undertake the lease, purchase or development of the site, must be submitted to the city by 10 a.m. Aug. 17. 

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