Former Buc Rice, partner invest in inner city Tampa
TAMPA - The Spanish-style apartment building is part of the neighborhood's history. It was built in 1926 when Prohibition was in full force and Al Capone's gang ran an illicit liquor trade. "It's alleged that Al Capone's men stayed here," said Simeon Rice. "We don't really know, but that's what the community says." Rice is a three-time Pro Bowl player and was a defensive end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when the football team won the Super Bowl in 2002. In recent years, Rice has focused on real estate investments, among other endeavors. He is a partner with Michael Mincberg in Sight Properties, which owns Il Nascondiglio — which, in Italian, means "the hideout." The property is in the Westshore Palms neighborhood at 4211 North A St., off Lois Ave.Among the first projects they tackled was a $45,000 triplex, which was remodeled and leased out. The focus is on rehabilitating inner-city properties. Mincberg said about 20 properties are under construction or have pending contracts, including a 4,000-square-foot house in Tampa Heights. "We see the potential in the city," said Mincberg, the outfit's managing partner. The 12-unit apartment building on North A Street will open in January. Next door, another property owner is planning to build 12 town homes. Rice and Mincberg bought the property last year and were advised to tear down the building. There was termite and water damage. Neighbors said it was an eyesore. "It was a crack house," Rice said. "It was drawing in the wrong type of people." Not many people had taken interest in the building as an investment, Rice said. But during the past year, workers have moved "piece by piece" to restore the structure, Mincberg said. Mayor Bob Buckhorn stopped by to inspect a completed apartment during a recent open house. He recalled the Westshore Palms area as an older neighborhood where cigar workers once lived. "Over the years (the neighborhood) deteriorated," Buckhorn said. "Left in disrepair, places like this are a cancer." But the mayor said projects such as this one show, "you can be an entrepreneur in the urban core when others have walked away; do good and make money." There is no question the goal is to make a profit but Rice said the partners also hope to make a difference, "one block at a time, one product at a time, one neighborhood at a time."
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