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Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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Vinik group eyes more land near Forum

Jeff Vinik is taking another step forward in his drive to buy up and control land around the Forum, where his hockey team plays.

One of his real estate partnerships is now under contract to buy the last few residential properties in the immediate area, including three 100-year-old shotgun-style homes at the northwest corner of Cumberland Avenue and Nebraska Avenue, and a low-slung apartment building next door with four units.

The homes stick out as the last remaining residential holdouts between the Selmon Expressway and Channelside Drive in what’s now a sea of open-field parking where more than a few political players in town hope Vinik might usher in a baseball stadium.

“Everyone knew it was just a matter of time,” said Eddie Diaz, who owns the property along with his wife’s family through a real estate trust. Now, Diaz is trying to “graciously” move out a few tenants of those three houses and the apartment building.

Diaz declined to name the price, lest the disclosure disrupt a deal set to close in July. While old, the three homes are not under any kind of historic preservation restriction, Diaz said, but he did look at possibly moving them anyway.

“I try to salvage things like this whenever possible,” he said. “But the cost of moving them in the condition they’re in was just too much. I think the termites that are holding hands and keeping the houses together would lose their grip.”

There’s a general plan to widen Cumberland Avenue, Diaz said, and potentially allow Vinik to clear the whole area for future development. “This gives them one less headache to deal with,” Diaz said.

Diaz said the purchaser is the Colorado-based real estate partnership where Vinik is a stakeholder, Gold Crown Management, which also has been buying scores of properties north of the Forum. That includes $10 million in land purchased nearby in 2013. When added to about 14 acres it already had purchased in the same area, the new acquisition locked up most of the land along Channelside Drive between Morgan Street and Meridian Avenue.

Officials with Vinik’s office were not immediately available for comment on their plans for the site where the three old homes stand.

Meanwhile, Vinik also plans a hotel project nearby at the corner of Nebraska Avenue and Old Water Street. That project has just started the rezoning process.

More than a few political players in Tampa have hoped that Vinik would help transform the area around the Forum. At one point Vinik had plans to acquire control of the Channelside Bay Plaza retail and entertainment complex. That may still happen, as a federal bankruptcy court is holding an auction for the Channelside site in July.

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