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Sunday, May 27, 2018
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County balks at ‘low ball’ offer for defunct Dade Oaks land

The Pasco County Housing Authority rejected what commissioners called a “low-ball” offer from Dade City to buy the flood-prone Dade Oaks apartment complex.

Housing Authority board member John Finnerty said the former director had a “handshake agreement” with Dade City Manager Billy Poe to sell the property for $200,000, so he was surprised to get a letter from Poe offering $150,000.

Dade City officials want to demolish Dade Oaks and use the land for stormwater retention. “The property really can’t be used for anything else,” Poe said.

When city commissioners voted on the matter last January, the sale price was $400,000. They authorized Poe to negotiate with the Housing Authority. Poe said he was directed by Mayor Camille Hernandez to offer the lower price.

“I think $200,000 is a fair price,” he said. “Obviously, I have to get my commission to approve that.”

The $150,000 offer didn’t go over well with the cash-strapped housing authority Wednesday morning.

“I think that commissioner was trying to take advantage of us,” Finnerty said.

Dade Oaks, which is just outside the city limits, was built at the low point of a 160-acre drainage basin. Topographic maps of the area reveal sharp elevation changes — as much as a 55-foot difference in about five city blocks.

The Housing Authority is replacing the 35-year-old apartments with Hilltop Landings, a new 69-unit complex on higher ground. Construction is scheduled to start on that project in October.

The Housing Authority board voted to counter at $200,000, plus waiving utility impact and connection fees for Hilltop Landings.

“If we go back and forth with them, my only concern is will they walk away from it?” Authority Chairman David Lambert asked. “I don’t want us to get stuck with an albatross around our neck.”

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